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Presented to the 

LIBRARY of the 


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VOL. I. 


[Frontispiece of Vol. I. 



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Third American Edition. With an Additional Chai-te 

VOL. I. 




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Copyright, 1S85, by 





My readers must not expect either stories of personal adventure 
or accounts of geographical exploration. The care which the 
Russians, Bukhariots, and Khokandians took that I should incur 
no personal danger, and should penetrate into no regions pre- 
viously unexplored, prevented both one and the other. The chief 
aim of my journey in Central Asia was to study the political and 
social condition of the regions which had been recently annexed 
by Russia, as well as to compare the state of the inhabitants 
under Kussian rule with that of those still living under the 
despotism of the Khans. In this I was in a measure successful. 
I have attempted in this book to give my impression oi 
what I myself saw, and of what I learned from my intercourse 
both with Russians and natives. In endeavouring to give a 
true picture of the condition of affairs, I have sometimes felt- 
obliged to speak at length of subjects upon which it has given 
me little pleasure to dwell. I think, however, that my 
friends in Russia will not mistake my object in speaking. 1 
have lived too long in Russia, and have made too many friends 
there, to have other than kind feelings for the country and the 
people. I hope, then, that my readers will believe that the 
criticisms made upon certain acts of the Russian administration 

^- in Central Asia are not made in a spirit of fault-finding. It 
is evidently for the interest of Russia that the mistakes and 

o faults of the Russian policy should be known, and should be 
remedied as soon as possible. 

I have felt the more free to mention some of these things 
in this book, because the substance of the later chapters was 


embodied in an official document which was subsequently made 
public and excited considerable discussion. 

Besides my own observations, and the information which I 
have received from persons of very different grades and stations 
in life, both Russians and natives, from official documents, and 
from private letters, I have made use of whatever materials, 
either printed or written, were accessible, some of which are 
little known to any except Russian specialists. I have, how- 
ever, I trust, followed no authority blindly ; I have never ac- 
cepted a statement without enquiry and comparison with the 
accounts of others ; and if I sometimes state things which seem 
opposed to all that has been written or printed before, upon 
any particular subject, it has not been without good reason. 

It is of course impossible, and would be unwise, in every 
instance to name the authorities for my statements ; I can only 
say that I have endeavoured in all cases to obtain exact and 
accurate information. 

It is impossible for me to thank by name the many friends 
who assisted me in my enquiries and with my work; but I desire 
to express my special gratitude to the Russian authorities, both 
in St. Petersburg and in Central Asia, particularly in Samar- 
kand and Semiretch, where I was rendered so much kind assist- 
ance about my journey. My thanks are also due to Professor 
Grrigorief, Professor Zakharof, and Mr. Lerch, of the University 
of St. Petersburg, for all their patience and kindness in open- 
inp; to mo their storei of Oriental information. I desire also 
to express my obligations to General Milutin, the Russian 
Minister of War, for his polite attention in allowing the Topo- 
graphical Department of the Staff at St. Petersburg to prepare 
the two special maps of Central Asia and of the Kuldja region 
which are annexed to this book. 

Constantinople : September 1876. 


There is probably no author who, in revising a book written ten 
years before, would not wish that certain things had remained 
unsaid and that others had been differently stated. If I were to 
rewrite certain portions of this book, especially that which con- 
cerns the administration, I should probably put it in a somewhat 
different form. Here I would soften an expression ; there per- 
haps add an additional tinge of colour. But at the distance of 
many thousands of miles from any notes and documents, I should 
not feel that it would be fair for me to change now what I had 
once written, lest in so doing I should be led into committing 
still greater errors than those of which I have been accused. 

Perhaps I may be allowed a word of explanation as to how 
certain things which I wrote came to be published. On my re- 
turn from Central Asia I thought that my duty to my Govern- 
ment, which had allowed me a long leave of absence, required me 
to make a report on what I had seen. Naturally, writing in 
confidence, I expressed myself more plainly with regard to mat- 
ters of government and administration than I should have done 
if addressing the public. By an accident beyond my control this 
report was published officially. It immediately came back to 
Bussia and excited attention, for it was at once translated into 
Bussian and published in the newspapers by those who were 
hostile to the administration of General Kaufmann. Thence it 
found its way into the German and English press, and excited 
much discussion. The utmost extent, however, which even the 


most hostile criticism allowed itself in Russia, was to say that it 
was a common fault of Russians to abuse their own government 
in conversation with foreigners, and that unfortunately, without 
sufficient investigation, I had given too much credence to such 
statements. I had had, however, in my hands a sufficient num- 
ber of official documents to prevent my taking too much on 
trust ; and as to the accusation of General Annenkof that I had 
not the power of Reduciren und Klassiftciren, in which Goethe 
makes the whole intelligence of man to consist, I allow the book 
to speak for itself. If, however, from want of knowledge of facts, 
or from error of judgment, I have wrongly appreciated the acts 
or intentions of any person of whom I may have spoken, I can 
only express here, as I would to him in person, my very great 

After the publication of my official report and the criticisms 
which were made upon it, it became absolutely necessary for me 
to sustain what I had said by a fuller and more detailed publica- 
tion of the facts that I had learned. It was for this reason that 
the chapter on Russian administration is longer than it otherwise 
would have been. Before doing this I asked the advice of several 
persons highly placed in Russia — one of them the head of the 
Asiatic Department of the Foreign Office, and another one of 
the leading ministers, now a respected member of the Council 
of the Empire. They both requested me to carry out my inten- 
tion as it could do nothing but good. 

Having said this much, I wish to say also that it has gratified 
me exceedingly that my book has been so well received. It 
passed through six editions in England, had the honour of being 
reviewed by Mr. Gladstone, and is constantly cited as an authority 
by all writers on Central Asia, although sometimes to support 
the most opposite views, w r hich leads me to believe that I have 
succeeded in being impartial. By the quotations of writers on 
political questions I am nattered, but for the approbation of M. 
Elisee Reclus, in his great geographical work, I am profoundly 


I have added to this edition a chapter which brings the 
political history of Russian Central Asia down to the present 
time, and which covers the recent negotiations relative to the 
Afghan boundary. My account is based entirely on official docu- 
ments. From motives of convenience what should really be an 
epilogue appears as a prologue. 

Eugene Schuyler. 
Washington, July 4, 1885. 

S Welter. lizho 





Investigation — Expenses — Administrative changes — Explorations — The Amu 
Darya and the Caspian — Railways — Roads — Telegraphs — Petroleum — 
The Chinese occupy Kashgar — Deaiii of Yakub Khan — Treaties for the 
restitution of Kuldja — Russian Consulates — Relations with Afghanistan — 
The Russian Mission to Cabul in 1878 — The Cabul correspondence — Lord 
Beaconsfield's opinion — Relations with England — English apprehensiors 
after the Khivan campaign — Prince Gortchakof 's memorandum — England 
and Afghanistan — Haunting the steppes — English remonstrances — Loma- 
kin's expedition — Lazaref's plan — His death — Camels in warfare — Loma- 
kin's defeat — The Tekkes — General Skobelef — Capture of Geok Tepe — 
Losses — Submission of the Tekkes — Reorganization of the province — Merv 
— Its importance— Alikhanof — Intrigues of Siah Push — A peaceable fac- 
tion — Merv surrendered and annexed — Arrangement of the Persian bound- 
ary — Negotiations with England — The further boundary with Persia — 
Explanations about Merv — The Afghan boundary — Roshan and Shugnan 
— An Anglo-Russian boundary commission — Discussion as to starting- 
point — Principles of delimitation — The English appoint commissioners — 
Afghan reply — Penjdeh occupied by Afghans — Russian protests — Proposed 
zone of delimitation — The Russians propose a boundary line — Deadlock — 
The "sacred covenant" — The Penjdeh incident — Explanation — Russian 
proposals practically accepted , xvii 



The start — Prince Tchinghiz — The German Colonies on the Volga — Bashkirs 
—Uralsk — The Cossacks — Their great merits — Orenburg, the threshold 
of Central Asia — Old acquaintances — Our final preparations — Crossing 
the mountains — Orsk — The road through the steppe — Camels — Imaginary 
dangers— The steppe— Karabutak— Irghiz— The Aral Sea— Desertof Kara- 
Kum — Arrival at Kazala — The Kirghiz — Their history and present con- 
dition — Their character and peculiarities— Their life — Amusements — 
Horse races — Marriages . 1 





Kazala — Fort No. 1 — Commercial importance — Cordial reception — Talk of 
the Khivan expedition — Prospects of joining it — Suspicions — Frustrated 
hopes — We explain — Arrival of Russian captives from Khiva — The Syr 
Darya — Obstacles to navigation, and efforts to improve it — The Aral 
flotilla — A strange birthplace — Fort No. 2 — A Kirghiz cemetery — A 
Mussulman saint — Fort Perovsky — MacGahan starts for Khiva — The 
Kyzyl Kum desert — Hazreti-Turkistan — Mausoleum of Akhmed Yasavi 
— Inscriptions — Ikan — Its brave defence — Tchinikent .... 44 




First impressions — Similarity to American towns — Rapid growth — Houses 
— Garden of Governor-General — The Church — Earthquakes — Hotels anrt 
fare — The Club — Ming Uruk — Society — The Governor-General's State — 
Rigid etiquette at his balls — Bad tone — Cliques — Ignorance of the coun- 
try displayed by officials — The ' Central Asiatic Society ' — Jura Bek — 
Baba Bek — A nephew of the Amir of Bukhara — Alim Hadji Yunusof — 
A Court doctor — Murder of Malla Khan — A political execution in Buk- 
hara — The mercantile community — Said Azim — The native town — Mills — 
Walls — Population — Sarts — Tadjiks — Uzbeks — Their characteristics — 
Arabs — History of Tashkent — Its capture by General Tchernaief — His 
first proclamation ........... 76 



merchant's house — Its furniture — Mussulman devotions — Dress — Food — 
Drinks — Narcotics — Native games — Sporting — Falcons — Horses — Vehicles 
— Singing — Musical instruments — Dances of boys — A dance of women — 
The festival of Zang-ata — Veneration for old trees — Circumcision — Mar- 
riage — Wedding feasts — Divorce — Maladies of the Sarts — Cholera— Para- 
sites — Medicines — Funerals — Mourning — Asiatic influence on Russia — 
Islam — Different sects of Mohammedans — Mosques and worship there — 
Religious orders — Visit to performances of Jahria— Education — Primary 
schools — Colleges — Their arrangements and studies — The Kazis — Native 
courts among the nomad and settled population — Mussulman law — Chris- 
tianity and Islam , . . . . 118 





The Tashkent bazaar — Sunday bazaar — Silversmiths — Brassworkers — 
Cutlery and arms — Iron-foundries — Teahouses — Barbers — Apothecaries — 
Cosmetics — Oils — Dyes — Shoes and Leather — The Kirghiz bazaar — Cara- 
vanserais—Hindoos — Money-lending and its subterfuges — Pottery — Em- 
broidery — Cotton goods — Silk and silk culture — Legendary history of silk 
— Weights and measures — Money — Duties and Taxes — The Fair and its 
results — Statistics of Central Asiatic trade — Transportation -*■ Trade 
routes — Proposed railway , f , 173 



The Mullah— Tchinaz — The Famished Steppe— Assafoetida— Murza Rabat — 
Jizakh — Gates of Tamerlane — Rock inscriptions — Tchupan-Ata — First 
view of Samarkand — Hafistas — Early history — The Graeco-Bactrian dy- 
nasty — Chinese travellers — Clavijo — Baber's description — The Russian 
conquest — Siege of the citadel by the natives, and its heroic defence by 
the Russians — Mosque of Shah Zindeh — Bibi Khanym — Shir dar — Tomb 
of Timur — The Kok-tash — Hodja Akhrar — Koran of Othman — Bazaars — 
Dervishes — The Jews — Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan — Russian 
adventurers — Russian soldiers — Russian administration . . . 225 



Urgut— Our idyl— A second visit— The mountain ranges— The glacier — The 
Upper Zarafshan— Kohistan— The petty Beks— Iskender Kul Expedition 
—Annexation— Small extent of arable land in Central Asia— Irrigating 
canals— Regulation of irrigation— Water supply of Bukhara— Methods of 
irrigation— Systems of husbandry— Rotation of crops— Cereals— Famines 
— Lack of statistics — Cotton — Gardens — Price of land — Land tenure — 
Proposed land settlement— Land taxes 268 





Rencontre at Jizakh — Zamin — Ura-tepe — Peak of Altyn-bishik — Nau — Hod- 
jent — Its situation — Defence against the Khokandians — Coal mines — 
Lead — Gold — Naphtha — Exaggerated accounts of mineral wealth — Bridge 
over Syr Darya — Prefect's residence — Population of Kurama — Stock-rais- 
ing — Climate of Central Asia — Earthquakes — The calendars — Agricultural 
solar year — Zodiacal months — Their Chaldaean origin — The Kirghiz calen- 
dar derived from the Mongol — The twelve-year cycle 308 


I. A Sketch of the History of Khokand in Recent Times . . 337 

II. Review of Vambery's 'History of Bukhara,' by Professor 360 

Grigorief 360 

III. Mediaeval Travellers in Central Asia 390 




Jews cf Samarkand {by Verestchagin) . . 

A View of the Syr Darya {by Verestchagin) . . 

The Mosque Hazret at Turkistan {by Verestchagin) 

Turkistan {by Verestchagin) .... 

Street in Tashkent, with Mosque {from a photograph) 

View in Tashkent, Looking over the Koofs of the Bazaar 
to the Medresse of Beklar-Bek {from a photograph) 

The Citadel at Tchimkent {by Verestchagin) 

Medresse of Hodja Akhrar, Samarkand {from a photograph) 

Medresse Shir-Dar at Samarkand {from a photograph) 

Women of Samarkand {from a photograph) . . 

A Tartar Lady of Orenburg {from a photograph) 

Kirghiz changing Camp {by Verestchagin) . , 

Kirghiz Women {from a photograph) . • 

Kirghiz Horsemen {by Verestchagin) , , . 

. Frontispiacs 


To face p. 























t • 



• • 


• • 



• • 




A Kirghiz (by Verestchagin) . . . , . .42 

A Kirghiz Tomb (by Verestchagin) . . . . . . 63 

Baba Bek and Jura Bek (from a photograph) . . . .87 

An Uzbek (by Verestchagin) . , . . . .,107 

A Tadjik (by Verestchagin) . . . . . , .110 

A Boy of Tashkent (by Verestchagin) . . . , . • 142 

A Bazaar-Cook (from a photograph) . . . # .179 

A Hindoo (by Verestchagin) . . . , , . . 185 

The Tomb op Timur (by Verestchagin) • • • • . 253 

A Youth of Ubgtjt (by Verestchagin) . . * . , , 273 

A Hodjent Merchant (by Verettchagtn) . « , • 816 



Investigation — Expenses — Administrative changes — Explorations — The Amu 
Darya and the Caspian — Railways — Roads — Telegraphs — Petroleum — The 
Chinese occupy Kashgar — Death of Yakub Khan — Treaties for the restitution of 
Kuldja — Russian Consulates — Relations with Afghanistan — The Russian Mis- 
sion to Cabul in 1878 — The Cabul correspondence — Lord Beaconsfield's opinion 
— Relations with England — English apprehensions after the Khivan campaign 
— Prince Gortchakof 's memorandum — England and Afghanistan — Haunting the 
steppes — English remonstrances — Lomakin's expedition — Lazaref's plan — His 
death — Camels in warfare — Lomakin's defeat — The Tekkes — General Skobelef 
— Capture of Geok Tepe — Losses — Submission of the Tekkes — Reorganization 
of the province — Merv — Its importance — Alikhanof — Intrigues of Siah Push — 
A peaceable faction — Merv surrendered and annexed — Arrangement of the 
Persian boundary — Negotiations with England — The further boundary with 
Persia — Explanations about Merv — The Afghan boundary — Roshan and Shu- 
gnan — An Anglo-Russian boundary commission — Discussion as to starting- 
point— Principles of delimitation — The English appoint commissioners- 
Afghan reply — Penjdeh occupied by Afghans — Russian protests — Proposed 
zone of delimitation — The Russians propose a boundary line— Deadlock — The 
"sacred covenant" — The Penjdeh incident — Explanation— Russian proposals 
practically accepted. 

At so great a distance from official documents or other author- 
itative statements, we have but scanty material for judging of the 
progress of Kussian administration in Turkistan during the last 
ten years. We know, however, that there has been no open man- 
ifestation of discontent on the part of the native population, and 
that serious efforts have been made to put an end to misrule and 
official scandals. An investigating committee, under the presi- 
dency of Mr. Giers, a Senator, and brother of the Minister of 
Foreign Affairs, has made a careful examination into the state of 
the administration. In the province of Orenburg some crying 
abuses were detected and punished, and measures were taken to 
bring the expenditure into accord with the revenue and to pre- 
vent the steady drain upon the Imperial exchequer. In Turkis- 



tan proper two high officials have recently been tried and found 
guilty of peculation and malversation, and have been sent to hard 
labour in Siberia for fifteen years. The report of Mr. Giers 
(which has not been published) is said to show that the country 
has been completely pacified, that the rights of property are re- 
spected, and that complete religious toleration exists. Crime is 
on the decline, and that would imply a satisfactory economical 
condition of the population. 

The commission, however, arrived at the conclusion that the 
comparative prosperity of Turkistan has been attained at great 
expense to the Treasury. The revenue of the province is still in- 
sufficient to meet the expenditure. I have given a table (Vol. ii. 
p. 213), showing the annual revenue and expenditure from 1868 
to 1872. This can be completed by the following, which shows 
the financial condition from 1873 to 1882, expressed in rubles. ' 



























Total, 1873-1882 








Total of fifteen years 




We see, therefore, that the total cost of Turkistan for fifteen 
years was eighty-four million rubles (at least $45,000,000) over 
the revenue, to be made good from the Treasury of the Empire, 
subject, however, to the limitations already mentioned. While the 
province of Semiretch, which really forms part of Siberia, was 
detached toward the end of 1882, which would diminish the an- 
nual deficit by about one and a half million rubles, we have no 

1 Turkistan Gazette, December 6/18, 1883. 


account of the certainly large expenses of the Transcaspian Re- 
gion and Turkmenia. These should be taken into consideration, 
in order to have an idea of the total cost of Central Asia to Rus- 

General Kaufmann died at Tashkent on May 16, 1882, and 
was succeeded as Governor-General by General Tchernaief, the 
original conqueror of the country, of whom frequent mention has 
been made. He was succeeded in 1884 by General Rosenbach, 
previously chief-of -staff of the Military District of St. Petersburg. 
When, at the same time, the district of Semiretch was detached 
from Turkistan, it was made into the Government General of the 
Steppe, and retained under General Kolpakofsky, who was pro- 
moted to be Governor-General. About this time, too, the whole 
region between Khiva and the Caspian was formed into a prov- 
ince called the Transcaspian Region, and put under the com- 
mand of General Rokrberg, who was, in the spring of 1883, suc- 
ceeded by General Komarof. This region, though with an 
independent civil administration, still forms part of the Military 
Circumscription of the Caucasus. 

In November, 1882, the Emperor Alexander III. added to his 
other titles that of Sovereign of Turkistan ' (Gosudar Turkistan- 
sky), and at his coronation in May, 1883, there were present rep- 
resentatives of the subject peoples of Central Asia, including some 
deputies from Merv, which was not at that time annexed, as well 
as the Khan of Khiva in person and Seid Abdullah Bek, the son 
of the Amir of Bukhara, whom I had met as a boy Governor of 
Kermineh. 2 

The last ten years have been very propitious for travellers and 
explorers. The Russians have come to know the remote corners 
of their Asiatic domain as well as they have long done what was 
nearer home. Especial attention has been given to the Pamir 
and the region of the Upper Amu Darya and its affluents, and 
Darvaz, Shugnan, Karategin, have been several times visited. 
Thanks to the prompt publication of the results of these expedi- 

1 The arms of Turkistan are thus described : A unicorn sable passant, 
on a field or, with eyes, tongue, and horn gules. 

2 See vol. ii. , p. 116. 


tions by the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, the names of 
Severtsof, Glukhofsky, Kuropatkin, Mushketof, Oshanin, Ivanof, 
Maef, and Konshin have become familiar to all who are interested 
in geography. Passing by Przhevalsky and Potanin, who are still 
engaged in exploring China and Thibet, one of the most indefati- 
gable and enthusiastic travellers is Dr. Albert Kegel, a son of the 
eminent director of the Botanical Gardens at St. Petersburg. 
Himself a botanist, and a physician, he had fitted himself for his 
work by a residence of several years in Turkistan, and by constant 
practice among the natives. In 1879 he crossed the Chinese 
frontier, and was the first European in modern times to visit 
Turfan and Urumtsi. From 1881 to 1883 he travelled in Kulab, 
Shugnan, and Darvaz, always in quest of plants, and in 1884 
went through Bukhara to Merv and Penjdeh. In the autumn 
of 1878 Colonel Grodekof performed a brilliant feat, in riding 
from Samarkand through Balkh, Saripul, and Maimena to Herat, 
and thence through Persia. He was undisguised, in a Russian 
uniform, accompanied only by an interpreter and two attendants. 
The explorations of Mr. Lessar from 1881 to 1884 in the Kara 
Kum and Southwestern Turkmenia, begun originally to study 
a route for the continuation of the railway, were fertile in results, 
but were especially remarkable by the discovery that there is an 
easy road to Herat from the north, which can even be made pass- 
able for wheeled vehicles. All the previous theories about the 
height and difficulties of the Paropamisus Mountains were thus 
at once overthrown, and the geographers and alarmists of London 
and India had a surprise and a sensation such as they had not 
experienced in many years. 

Foreign travellers, too, have not been wanting. Mr. Ch. de 
Ujfalvy de Mezokovesd, a Hungarian by birth, has made two 
journeys in Turkistan, under the auspices of the Geographical 
Society of Paris, chiefly with an ethnological aim, and the account 
of his first journey in 1876-77 has already been published. 1 The 
late Mr. Edmond O'Donovan, in his zeal as a correspondent of the 
Daily News, visited Merv in 1881, and has left us an entertaining 

1 Expedition scientifique franchise en Russie, en Siberie et dans le Turk- 
istan. Ch. E. de Ujfalvy de Mezokovesd. Paris, 1878-79. 


account of bis adventures and imprisonment. 1 Later still two 
Frenchmen, Baron Benoist-Mechin and M. de Mailly-Chalon, 
traversed the whole length of Asia, starting from the Pacific, re- 
mained some time in Turkistan, and visited Merv in 1883. Mr. 
Lansdell and Dr. Sevier, two Englishmen interested in mission- 
ary work and the distribution of Bibles, have recently made a tour 
from Vierny, through Tashkent, Bukhara and Khiva, to the Cas- 

One of the results of the extensive Russian explorations of the 
Turkoman desert is the final settlement of the much-disputed 
question as to the possibility of water communication between 
the Sea of Aral and the Caspian. 2 

Mr. Lessar, in 1883, made a considerable survey of two of these 
dry channels, the Uzboi, and the Unguz, near Tchardjui. He found 
that there are not only these two so-called dry beds or seeming 
old river-channels, but very many of them. He concludes with 
regard to the Unguz that there is only one section of it resem- 
bling a river-channel or suitable for a water-course without enor- 
mous labour, while the unevenness of the ground and the large 
tracts of sand offer obstacles to the digging of a canal, which 
must be considered as practically insurmountable. He is in- 
clined to think that the Uzboi was simply the bed of a gulf of the 
Aral Sea, which had gradually dried up by alterations in its level 
and the influence of atmospheric causes, and says decidedly : 
" There is no longer any doubt of the impracticability of adapt- 
ing the Uzboi to connect the Aral with the Caspian. It must be 
understood that we are speaking of the effect of such a connection 
by merely turning the river. In many places there is absolutely 
no channel for hundreds of miles ; in others gigantic works will be 
requisite for the passage of water. By wasting many millions, 
an artificial river- way might be created, but its adaptability for 
practical purposes would be out of the question." 3 

Mr. A. Konshin, a mining engineer, who was also engaged in 

1 The Merv Oasis. By Edmond O' Donovan. London, 1882. 

2 See vol. i., pp. 53-55. 

3 Bulletin of Imp. Russ. Geog. Soc, vol. xx., p. 113 ff. Proceedings of 
Royal Geog. Soc, April, 1885, p. 231. 


surveying this region in 1883, is equally emphatic. He says 
that after exploring thoroughly the basin of Sary-Kamysh he 
found " that to the southwards, for two hundred miles toward 
Bala-Ishem, there is no channel whatever. The locality presents 
a broad system of ancient dried-up lakes and swamps, traces of 
which have been kept on a surface of nearly ten thousand square 
miles. The Uzboi begins further down than Bala-Ishem and has 
nowhere any signs of being fixed. It was evidently an old gulf 
or sound of the Caspian, serving in part for conveying to that 
sea the waters of the lakes of Sary-Kamysh. The project of 
a water communication of the Amu Darya with the Caspian 
would demand the construction of a canal for several hundred 
miles." ' 

The most probable explanation seems to be this : We know 
that the Aral was once much larger, the Aibughir Gulf (which was 
for a time restored by the overflow of the Amu Darya in 1878), 
having dried up in modern times. The Aral probably once ex- 
tended to Sary-Kamysh, making a great inland sea, shallow in the 
middle with two deeper basins, like the Caspian ; the Syr Darya 
flowing into the northern one, and the Amu into the southern 
one, now represented by Lake Sary-Kamysh. At times an over- 
flow of water went through the Uzboi toward the Caspian. It is 
noticeable that the shells found in the Uzboi are of salt-water, 
not fresh-water, species. 

A great change will be introduced into the relations between 
Central Asia and Europe by better means of communication. 
For several years the Bussian Government gave great attention 
to projects for railways between the Volga and Tashkent. The 
railway from Moscow to Samara was finally extended as far as 
Orenburg. The project of a direct line from Orenburg to Tash- 
kent was abandoned, partly as impracticable, and partly on the 
ground of the great expense, which could never be recovered 
from the traffic. It was thought profitable, however, to connect 
Orenburg with Siberia, and the future Siberian line, from which 
a branch might be built directly south to Tashkent and the 

1 Bulletin of the Imp. Russ. Geog. Soc, vol. xix., p. 315 ; vol. xx., p. 208. 
Bulletin de la Societe de Geographie, for 1884, pp. 193-194. 


Zaraf shan valley. Even this project has now been relegated to 
the pigeonholes of the departments. 

The necessities of the campaign of General Skobelef brought 
about the establishment of what was intended to be a temporary 
railway, connected with a tramway from Michailovsk, on the Cas- 
pian, to Kyzyl-Arvat, a distance of one hundred and forty-four 
miles over the worst part of the desert. This railway was com- 
pleted in September, 1881, at an expense of $3,000,000 or about 
$22,000 per mile. Owing to fears then expressed that the railway 
might become buried in the shifting sand, or that the inundations 
of the Caspian might wash the first portion of it away, it was 
built far more strongly than had at first been intended, and, in- 
stead of a temporary railway, General Annenkof built a good five- 
foot line as well and solidly made as any in Russia. The con- 
struction of the road has now been sanctioned from Kyzyl-Arvat 
to Askabad, one hundred and forty-six miles further over level 
ground, which could be shortened to one hundred and thirty- 
five. It will traverse no stream of any size and it is thought, 
that this section will be easily built at $20,000 per mile. From 
Askabad to Sarakhs, a distance of one hundred and eighty-five 
and one-half miles, according to Lessar, the country is perfectly 
level and presents no obstacle whatever to a railway, so that the 
cost would be the same as for the other section. There would be 
no need of constructing any branch from Sarakhs to Merv un- 
less that were found to be the easier way, — as with the extension 
of the irrigating system it probably will be, — to reach the Oxus, 
thence Bukhara, Samarkand, and Tashkent. But if the Indian 
railway system should be extended by the English to Candahar 
or further, as now seems very possible, whatever the political ob- 
jections might be for a time, the two roads would certainly be 
joined at last. The distance from Sarakhs to Herat is two hun- 
dred and two and a half miles. Half of this would be, like the 
preceding section, built at $20,000 a mile, the remaining hun- 
dred at about $25,000, so that the total cost of the five hundred 
and twenty-three miles from Kyzyl-Arvat to Herat would be about 
$11,000,000. It is estimated that the extreme cost of the railway 
from Sibi, the present terminus of the Indian Railway, through 


Candahar to Herat, would be, for five hundred and ninety-nine 
miles, $20,000,000. This would make the total cost of a railway 
from the Caspian to the Indian frontier about $34,000,000. Even 
this amount is less than the cost of the Transcaucasian railway 
from Batum and Poti through Tiflis to Baku, which was over 
$44,000,000. By this means there would be direct steam com- 
munication between any part of Europe and India. The Kussian 
railways reach Vladikavkaz in the Caucasus, but the construction 
of a line between that place and Tiflis would require a road of 
one hundred and twenty-two miles, with one tunnel five miles 
long and a number of second-class tunnels. It could not be com- 
pleted in less than twelve years, and for some of the sections the 
cost has been estimated at $150,000 a mile. The line from Poti 
to Tiflis has been working for some years. The continuation from 
Tiflis to Baku was completed in the autumn of 1882, and the sec- 
tion from Poti to Batum in the early part of 1883. The only 
breaks, therefore, in direct railway communication are the one 
hundred and twenty-two miles from Vladikavkaz to Tiflis (al- 
though there is steam communication from almost any Black 
Sea port to Batum), and the crossing of the Caspian between 
Baku and Michailovsk, which is usually accomplished in twenty 

In building the railway from Michailovsk to Kyzyl- Arvat, the 
engineers were greatly assisted by the use of a small Decauville rail- 
way sixty-five miles long, which, with a gauge of only twenty in- 
ches, and worked by a miniature 2^-ton petroleum heated loco- 
motive rendered great service. When the railway was finished to 
Kyzyl-Arvat, this Decauville railway had already gone as far as 
Bami. It would probably have remained there for use in trans- 
portation, except for the discovery of immense deposits of naph- 
tha and ozokerit, at a place called the Naphtha Hill, sixteen and 
a half miles southwest of the Tagyr wells, and fifty-three miles 
from the railway. 

The petroleum residue, which had been used for fuel for lo- 
comotives, had previously been brought from Baku, or the Island 
of Tchekelen, but, in consequence of this discovery, the Decau- 
ville railway was relaid as a branch extension to the Naphtha 


Hill, and now conveys all the • fuel for the locomotives in use 
there. ' 

Greater facilities of communication have been given by the use 
of a new road from Khiva to the Caspian. In 1879, after General 
Lomakin was repulsed by the Turkomans, the whole region became 
very unsafe, and the merchants Vaniushin, who had been accus- 
tomed to send caravans from Khiva to Krasnovodsk en route for the 
fair of Nizhni-Novgorod, took a short cut to the bay of Mertvy Kul- 
tuk, since named Tsesarevitch Bay. They found a tolerably level 
country, with little sand and plenty of water, fuel, and forage. The 
caravan employed wagons drawn by camels, each of which car- 
ried twelve hundred pounds, while only six hundred and forty 
pounds can be carried by a pack camel. Their cargo was caviare 
and fish from a fishery established on the Sea of Aral. 2 This 
route was highly approved by Roshef, an Orenburg merchant, sent 
by the Russian Sea and Overland Transport Company to investi- 
gate trade-routes, and subsequently, by direction of General 
Tchernaief, it was surveyed by Colonel Alexandrof. The distance 
from Kungrad to the port of Yaman-Airakty, where a pier and 
a house for travellers have already been built, is two hundred and 
ninety-eight miles, occupying ten to twelve days for a caravan. 
From the port, which has a depth in summer of six and a half 
feet, and in spring of nine feet, it takes a passenger steamer forty- 
eight hours and a tug three days to reach Astrakhan. Troops 
have already been sent to Khiva by this road. 3 

In 1883 the Aral flotilla was disestablished, as it had lost all 
military or naval importance, and the vessels had of late been em- 
ployed solely for transports. They have been made over to a 
private company. An effort is now being made to establish, un- 
der government patronage, a steam navigation company on the 
Amu Darya, which has been fully explored. 

The telegraph system has been completed to Samarkand and 
to various points of Ferghana. Baku has been connected with 
Tchikishlar and Krasnovodsk not only by a cable, but by a land 

1 See The Russians at Merv and Herat, by Charles Marvin. London, 
1383. ■ Moscow Gazette, March 4/16, 1879. 

3 Russian Invalid, April 8/20, 1883. 


line through Persia. From Tchikishlar the telegraph is now in 
operation as far as Merv. 

The Kussians will undoubtedly exert another very important 
civilizing influence in Central Asia through the great development 
which the petroleum industry has taken at Baku. It has always 
been known that naphtha and petroleum existed in that region in 
large quantities, greater, it is believed, than anywhere else in the 
world ; but owing to bad management, to want of capital and of 
initiative, little was produced until late years and even that was 
of bad quality. Now, however, this trade has taken such an ex- 
tension that while in 1872 the production of petroleum in Baku 
amounted to two hundred and twelve thousand barrels, in 1881 
the production exceeded four million barrels. The town of 
Baku grew at the same time from under twelve thousand to over 
fifty thousand inhabitants. This petroleum is not only used for 
lighting purposes but for fuel on the locomotives of the railways 
both in the Caucasus and Transeaspian country, as well as on 
the steamers on the Caspian, and an effort is being made to promote 
the use of oil-stoves instead of wood-stoves through the Caucasus 
and the south of Kussia. Artificial light has been proved to be a 
great civilizing influence, enabling the population to prolong the 
hours of labor and of leisure. Whatever may be the result of the 
effort to extend the Russian petroleum trade in Europe, it is evi- 
dent that the Asiatic market affords a great field for its develop- 
ment. The brothers Nobel, merchants of St. Petersburg, of Swed- 
ish origin, have been the great promoters of the petroleum trade, 
and through their efforts, seconded since by rival companies, a 
very great number of steamers have been placed on the Caspian, 
so that the government flotilla has sunk into entire insignificance. 
The Russians can use the oil steamers for the transportation of 
troops and supplies, as well as the mercantile steamers of the vari- 
ous Volga companies. By taking twelve of the larger steamers a 
force of six thousand troops could be transported in twenty- 
four hours from one side of the Caspian to the other. ' 

1 All the latest accounts of this region will be found in two interesting 
books of Mr. Charles Marvin : 'The Russians at Merv and Herat' (London, 
1883), and 'The Region of Eternal Fire' (London, 1884). 


We will now consider the relations of Russia with the countries 
"beyond the frontiers of Turkistan. Let us begin with China. 

The Chinese army for the reconquest of Eastern Turkistan, 
which, as we have seen, moved slowly, 1 stopping on the road 
to raise crops during the summer, and preparing hides and 
clothing for the winter, at last reached Kashgaria in the au- 
tumn of 1876. After it had taken Urumtsi and Manas, Yakub 
Khan, the Amir of Kashgar, retreated to Kurla, leaving his 
younger son Hakk Kuli Bek in Takhta Sun, where he passed the 
whole winter. But the Chinese, in the spring, having advanced 
still further, his army refused to fight, and he fled to Kara Shahr. 
The Amir remained in Kurla "in a state of despondency," to 
quote the words of a Turkish officer who was present. " Five days 
after his departure the Amir died. He was not suffering from 
any illness, but all at once, as he sat down, blood began to flow 
from his nose, and he became entirely prostrated. Remarking 
that he had not strength enough left to go to the Mosque, even 
to pray, he lay down and immediately expired. Some said that 
Hakk Kuli had poisoned him ; others said that one of the Amir's 
wives had killed him ; another rumour was that the Russian Envoy 
was the cause of his death. I am quite sure that Hakk Kuli had 
nothing to do with the Amir's death. The probability is that he 
was poisoned." 2 After various quarrels and fights between the 
different sons of Yakub Khan, his eldest son, Bek Kuli Bek, re- 
mained master of the situation, but had the imprudence to go 
from Kashgar to Khotan, where the Governor had shown a dis- 
position to oppose him, and the Chinese, taking advantage of 
this, moved on more rapidly and captured several towns. Bek 
Kuli Bsk took Khotan, but the Governor, Niaz Bek, escaped and 
joined the Chinese. Bek Kuli Bek, now despairing of success, 
collected all his treasure and sent it off toward Thibet and Kash- 
mere ; but his troops, hearing of his own flight, arrested him, 
without, however, recapturing the treasure. He then returned to 
Kashgar, but in that town there were two thousand Chinese re- 
cently converted to Mohammedanism, and when they found that 

1 See vol. ii. , p. 326. 

2 Parliamentary Papers : Central Asia, No. 1. (1880), p. 22. 


their countrymen were advancing, they took possession of the 
citadel and returned to Buddhism. The Chinese then easily 
took the town. Bek Kuli Bek fled to Khokand, then already 
Russian territory. 

There were still difficulties with Sarts, Kirghiz and other 
adventurers who came on from Khokand, but the Chinese finally 
succeeded in gaining entire possession of the province. 

They next demanded the restitution of Kuldja. As this could 
not be arranged at once, they made difficulties of all kinds with 
Russian commerce on the frontier, threatening at every moment 
that they would advance and occupy the country by force. The 
only reply that Russia could give was, that, while recognizing, as 
it always had done, the rights of the Chinese Government to the 
province of Kuldja, it was ready to restore it only on condition 
that the Chinese Government should indemnify Russia for the 
expenses incurred during the administration of the country for 
several years, and should offer sufficient guarantees for the future 
security of the Russian possessions. The court at Pekin seemed 
to appreciate the propriety of this answer and sent to St. Peters- 
burg a Chinese Ambassador, Chung How, with full powers to 
arrange the matter. A treaty was easily concluded and approved 
by the Emperor at Livadia. Then, however, the Chinese Gov- 
ernment refused to ratify this treaty on the ground that their 
Ambassador had overstepped his powers, and that no treaty had 
ever before been concluded outside of China. This produced an 
extremely unpleasant feeling between Russia and China, which 
nearly brought on a war. Finally, the Chinese Government sent 
to St. Petersburg a new Ambassador, the Marquis Tseng, who 
was accredited at the same time to England, France, and Ger- 
many. A new treaty was concluded at St. Petersburg on Feb- 
ruary 24, 1881, and the ratifications were exchanged on Au- 
gust 19th of the same year. By this treaty the Russians agreed 
to give up the greater portion of the occupied territory 
within three months, after a proper official had been sent to 
receive it. The Chinese promised to pay nine millions of rubles 
in gold within two years for the expenses of occupation, and in- 
demnities to the inhabitants who had been or might be deprived 


of their property. The inhabitants of the ceded portion were to 
have the choice of remaining Chinese or becoming- Kussian sub- 
jects. In the latter case all except those born Kussian were to 
remove within Kussian territory. The boundary line was drawn 
from the Bedjin-Tau Mountains south along the Kiver Khorgos 
to the Hi, and then again south to the Uzon-Tau Mountains, 
leaving the village of Koldjat on the west, to the old boundary 
as settled by the treaty of Tchugutchak of 1864. Very many 
persons, fearing to be ill-treated by the Chinese, emigrated to 
the Kussian province of Semiretch, and Kuldja was finally sur- 
rendered on March 23, 1883. 

By this treaty also Kussian consulates were to be established 
at Hi or Kuldja, Tarbagatai, Kashgar and Urga, as before the oc- 
cupation, at Su-tchow (Tsia-yu-kwan) and at Turfan, and gradually, 
as trade should increase, after a j)reliminary understanding with 
the Chinese Government, at Kobdo, Uliassutai, Khami, Urumtsi 
and Gutchen. 

Mr. Nicholas Petrofsky, to whom frequent reference has been 
made in these volumes, was immediately appointed the Kussian 
Consul at Kashgar. 

In this way the boundary of the Kussian dominion in Central 
Asia was completely fixed on the east by the treaty with the Chi- 
nese, and on the south by the arrangement with England with 
regard to the boundaries of Afghanistan. It may be worth 
while, however, to mention, as an additional example of the sus- 
picion with which Russia was viewed by the Indian Government, 
that in a secret despatch from the Governor-General of India to 
the Duke of Argyll on June 30, 1873, it was proposed that the 
British Government should lose no time in obtaining from the 
Kussian Government a definition of the boundaries of Yarkand — 
that is, Kashgaria. Such an intervention, however, Lord Gran- 
ville thought highly inexpedient, and refused to mention the 
subject. The despatches were printed for the first time five 
years later. 1 

When the English occupied Afghanistan in 1879 they captured, 
at Cabul, correspondence which had been carried on between 
1 Parliamentary Papers, Central Asia, No. 1 (1878), p. 205. 


General Kaufmann and the Amir Shir Ali. The early portion of 
this correspondence was purely complimentary in tone, and 
bears out what I said of it at the time. 1 But from that date 
letters were exchanged more frequently, and one of them, 
dated February, 1876, which gave a full account of the occupa- 
tion of Khokand, both the English and Indian Governments 
refused to consider as purely complimentary. Its allusions 
seemed to convey political hints, if not promises. There can be 
no question but that this correspondence, slight as it was, did 
much to excite English feeling, for copies of the letters were im- 
mediately sent from Cabul by the English Agent, who at the 
same time always attempted to magnify the rank of the messen- 
ger who brought the letter into that of a special envoy. 

Finally when, after the treaty of San Stefano, in the spring of 
1878, matters for a few weeks looked much like a war between 
England and Russia, General Kaufmann took a more decided 
line of policy. He not only sent columns of troops to various 
points on the frontier, for the purpose of invading Afghanistan, 
and of attacking the English if necessary, but he also despatched 
a Russian envoy to Cabul in order to detach the Amir from the 
English alliance. This seemed at that time a comparatively easy 
matter. Relations between Lord Lytton, then Viceroy, and Shir 
Ali had become very strained, and while the Amir at first hesitated 
to receive a European envoy in Cabul, he was soon won over to 
friendship and even to a treaty. The person chosen for this 
mission was General Stoletof, who left Samarkand on June 14th, 
reached Mazar-i-Sherif on July 5th, and, after a difficult journey 
over the high Bamian passes, arrived at Cabul on July 10th, 
where on the next day he was received by the Amir. Much was 
made at the time by the English of the question of dates, for on 
July 13th the Berlin Treaty had been signed, which put an end 
to the open conflict between England and Russia. The party 
which had done its best to bring about a war on the Turkish 
question, now endeavoured to excite a new one on the ground that 
by this mission Russia had proved false to the obligation which 
she had contracted not to interfere in the affairs of Afghanistan. 
1 See vol. ii. , pp. 312 ff. 


It was easily explained, however, that the mission of General 
Stoletof had started long before the treat}' of Berlin was signed, 
and that when he was negotiating with the Afghans no informa- 
tion had yet reached him that the treaty of Berlin had been con- 
cluded. Suddenly, on August 23d, General Stoletof started to 
return to Tashkent, bringing a draft treaty of alliance, and leav- 
ing Colonel Bazgonof in his place as the head of the mission- 
It was expected that the Amir would soon send a mission to 
Tashkent and the Russians were to wait and return with it. 

Meanwhile the English had insisted that the Amir should also 
receive in Cabul a British envoy. Sir Neville Chamberlain was 
nppointed to this post, and started from India in great haste with 
a large escort ; but admission to the country was absolutely re- 
fused to him by the Amir. This was on September 21st. The 
letter of Lord Lytton proposing a British Envoy, although written 
on August 14th, was detained and delivered to the Amir only on 
September 10th, long after the departure of General Stoletof. 

The result was, as is well known, the Afghan war, the flight of 
Shir Ali, the accession of his son Yakub Khan, the murder of 
Major Cavagnari, the new English envoy, and a new occupation 
of Afghanistan after serious fighting. 

When Shir Ali got into his difficulties with the. English he 
fully relied upon the promises which had been made to him 
by the Russians in the expectation of war, the importance of 
which he had perhaps somewhat exaggerated. But General Sto- 
letof, on reaching Russia, found an entirely new state of affairs. 
He went to the Emperor at Livadia, and endeavoured, as far as 
possible, not only to clear himself, but also to prevent the Amir 
from becoming the scapegoat. This was all useless. Owing to 
the political situation, Stoletof himself came into disfavour for 
having exceeded his instructions, and was put upon the retired 
list. The remainder of the Russian mission under Colonel Raz- 
gonof, on December 13th, accompanied the flight of Shir Ali, 
who nominally entrusted the government of the country to his 
previously hated son Yakub Khan, forced now to do this by the 
general disaffection of the tribes. When he reached Tash-Kur- 
gan, near the Oxus, he was in an ailing condition, and although 


Doctor Yavorsky, at his request, returned from Tashkent, 
whither he had gone with General Stoletof, and treated him, he 
died on February 20, 1879. ' 

During the troubles in Afghanistan which ended in the depor- 
tation of Yakub lib an and the flight of his brother, Abdur Rah- 
man Khan succeeded in leaving Samarkand, where he had been 
living for several years, and in making his way to Afghanistan, 
where he soon became recognised not only by the chiefs of the 
tribes, but finally by the British Government, and was formally 
proclaimed Amir on July 22, 1880. 

To return to the correspondence found at Cabul. An account 
of these documents, magnified by rumour, appeared first in the 
newspapers. Questions were asked about them in Parliament and 
the Government was somewhat mysterious in its replies. Prince 
Lobanof, the new Prussian ambassador, on arriving in London 
asked Lord Salisbury to let him see them ; but Lord Salisbury 
answered that it had been expressly decided by the Cabinet to 
assign them to oblivion in order to avoid irritating discussions 
between the two governments. Subsequently, the question hav- 
ing again come up, Lord Granville did give Prince Lobanof, for 
his confidential information, copies of some of the most important 
letters. By order of the Emperor these were sent to General 
Kaufmann to be compared with the originals. Although in the 
main they were correct, there were occasionally slight errors of 
translation. General Kaufmann was thereupon directed not only 
to abstain from holding any communication with the new Amir, 
but in case it should happen that Abdur Rahman Khan should 
ever w T rite to him one of those ceremonial letters which the duty 
of good neighbourhood occasionally required, he was to send the 
answer to the Foreign Office in order to be forwarded to the Amir 
through the British Government. 

In spite of the efforts made at that time and since to put all 
this proceeding in a disagreeable light, every fair-minded reader 

1 As another instance of the length of the journey, Doctor Yavorsky left 
Tashkent on November 29th and reached Tash-Kurgan only on January 6th. 
These dates are all given in his hook, ' Journey of the Russian Embassy Afghanistan and Bukhara in 1878-79.' 


of the correspondence, which was subsequently published in a 
Parliamentary paper, ' must agree with the words of Lord Beacons- 
field, who in a speech in the House of Lords, on December 10, 
1878, said : "Eight months ago war was more than probable be- 
tween this country and Eussia ; and an imprudent word might 
have precipitated that war. I will say of the expedition which 
Eussia was preparing in Central Asia at the time when she be- 
lieved that war was inevitable between our country and herself, I 
will say at once that I hold that all those preparations on the part 
of Eussia were justifiable, and if war had occurred, of course they 
would have contributed to bring about the ultimate result, what- 
ever that might have been. Had we been in the position of Eus- 
sia, I doubt not we might have undertaken some enterprise of a 
similar kind. We may admit that if war had occurred between 
the two countries all the preparations in Central Asia against Great 
Britain and India were justifiable ; but when it was found that war 
was not to be made, Her Majesty's Government made becomingly 
courteous representations to St. Petersburg, and it was impossi- 
ble that anything could be more frank and satisfactory than the 
manner in which they were met." 

Lord Beaconsfield also said to Count Shuvalof that he con- 
sidered that the course taken by the Eussians was " according to 
the rules of the game, under the circumstances." 

The relations between England and Eussia in Central Asia 
have assumed three phases : First, those which are described 
in Chapters XIV. and XV., from 1864 up to the conquest of 
Khiva in 1873 ; second, from 1873 to the English Treaty with 
Afghanistan in 1879. The third period is that through which we 
are now passing. 

The conquest of Khiva in 1873, and the occupation of the 
right bank of the Amu Daria, called forth an outburst of indigna- 
tion and anger in the English press which led to a statement in 
the Eussian Official Journal, of the reasons which necessitated 
the treaty. 2 The English Government thought it necessary to 

1 Central Asia, No. 1 (1881). * See vol. ii., p. 305. 


give some sort of satisfaction to the country, and Lord Gran- 
ville, in a despatch of January 7, 1874, instructed the British 
Ambassador to call the attention of the Russian Government 
to the dangers that might result from the progress of Eussia 
in Central Asia, to the balance of power which it had been en- 
deavoured to establish in those countries by an understanding 
between the two governments. That while there was no prac- 
tical advantage in examining too minutely the clauses of the 
treaty of peace to see whether they were in strict accord with 
the assurances given by Count Shuvalof, he went on to mention 
the apprehensions caused in Afghanistan by the rumours of an in- 
tended Russian expedition against Merv and the Turkoman tribes. 
"He foresaw," he said, "that in such a case it might easily hap- 
pen that the Turkomans should find themselves obliged to retire 
into the province of Badghiz in Herat, and that there would then 
be reason to fear that the Russians might call upon the Amir to 
prevent the Turkomans from committing aggressions, or permit 
the Russian forces to enter Afghanistan in order to punish them." 
He evidently did not then know that some tribes of the Turko- 
mans had been for a long time established in the oasis of Penjdeh, 
which was afterward claimed by the English to be a part of 
Badghiz. Lord Granville, therefore, hoped that the Russian 
Government would seriously consider the dangers of such an ex- 
pedition, and " thought it right to state frankly, once for all, that 
the independence of Afghanistan was considered a matter of great 
importance for the welfare and security of British India, and the 
tranquillity of Asia." Prince Gortchakof found it impossible to 
admit all this, as it did not seem to be in harmony with the spirit 
of the previous understanding ; for it tended to restrict the sphere 
of action conceded to Russia, because Merv was far beyond the 
frontiers of Afghanistan. It also " tended to detract from the 
value of the engagement on the part of England, whereby she 
pledged herself to use all her influence with Shir Ali in order to 
induce him to preserve a pacific attitude." Therefore, in his de- 
spatch of January 21, 1874, Prince Gortchakof reiterated his pos- 
itive assurance that Afghanistan was entirely outside of the sphere 
of action of the Russians ; that he could not recognize the right 


of England to interfere on behalf of the Turkomans, and while 
there was no intention at that time of undertaking military meas- 
ures against those tribes, it depended entirely on them whether 
they lived on good terms with Russia ; that if they gave way 
to acts of aggression and brigandage, Russia would be compelled 
to punish them ; that the Amir of Cabul might aid in averting the 
possibility of this occurrence by making the Turkomans plainly 
understand beforehand that if they provoked rigorous measures 
by acts of depredation committed against Russia, they could 
count on no assistance from him. 

The continued apprehensions of the English, however, made it 
necessary to Prince Gortchakof to resume the whole negotiations 
in a memorandum dated April 5, 1875, in which he says : 

"The Cabinet of London appears to derive, from the fact of 
our having, on several occasions, spontaneously and amicably 
communicated to them our views with respect to Central Asia, 
and particularly our firm resolve not to pursue a policy of con- 
quest or annexation, a conviction that we have contracted definite 
engagements toward them in regard to this matter. 

" Owing to the fact that events have forced us, against our will, 
to depart, to a certain extent, from our programme, they seem to 
conclude that the Imperial Cabinet have failed to observe their 
formal promises. 

" Lastly, in view of the successive steps which we have been 
forced to take in these countries, they infer that it is the right 
and the duty of England to take, on her side, measures to restrain 
our action, to paralyze our influence, and to secure herself against 
eventual aggression. 

"These conclusions do not seem to be in accordance with the 
real state of affairs, nor, indeed, with the spirit or the letter of 
the conventions established between the two governments. 

"It has always been understood that either party retained en- 
tire liberty of action and of judgment with respect to measures 
necessitated for its own security." ' 

1 This highly interesting memorandum, which should be studied in con- 
nection with Prince Gortchakof 's circular of 18C4, is printed in full in 
Parliamentary Papers, Central Asia, No. 1 (1878), pp. 27-40. 


The English Government felt it necessary to give its own ex- 
planation of certain expressions in the memorandum of Prince 
Gortchakof, having understood matters otherwise, but without 
casting any doubt upon the past or present declarations of the 
Russian Cabinet, and reserved for the British Government a lib- 
erty of action in all contingencies and in all quarters as full as that 
claimed by the Government of Russia ; and Prince Gortchakof, 
in replying to the despatch of Lord Derby, said : " We entirely 
agree in the conclusion, that, while maintaining, on either side, 
the arrangement as regards the limits of Afghanistan, which is to 
remain outside of the sphere of Russian action, the two Cabinets 
should regard as terminated the discussion relative to the inter- 
mediate zone, which has been recognised as impracticable. While 
maintaining entire freedom of action they should be guided by a 
mutual desire to pay due regard to their respective interests and 
necessities by avoiding, 'as far as possible, any immediate contact 
with each other, and any collision between the Asiatic States 
placed within the circle of their influence." * 

The neutral zone was thus given up, and we now come to the 
theory of Afghanistan as a buffer state between Russia, Turkistan, 
and India. The basis of relations between Afghanistan and Eng- 
land had been for several years the treaty concluded in 1855, be- 
tween Dost Mohammed and the East India Company. By this 
English residents were allowed to be placed in the several towns 
of Afghanistan ; but, in point of fact, such was the feeling of the 
Afghans, that it was found more convenient not to send them. 
When the Marquis of Salisbury, in 1875, was appointed head of 
the India Office, he informed the Vicero}', at that time Lord North- 
brook, that the Government had decided to insist on appointing 
English residents at Herat and Candahar. At Cabul it was not 
yet thought necessary. Lord Northbrook and all the members of 
the Council refused to see the propriety of this measure. They 
said that the Amir of Afghanistan had so far been faithful to his 
engagements ; that the Government had several times promised 
not to impose English residents upon him against his will ; and 

1 February 3/15, 1876, Parliamentary Papers, Central Asia, No. 1 (1878), 
p. 68. 


that the execution of this order would make a radical rupture 
with the policy of conciliation and good faith, which up to that 
time had prevailed in their relations with Afghanistan. Lord 
Salisbury insisted on the execution of his instructions, whereupon 
Lord Northbrook resigned, not being willing to fail in his en- 
gagements with Shir Ali. 

Lord Lytton was appointed Viceroy and immediately set about 
carrying out the ideas of the English Conservative Cabinet. The 
programme of that ministry was a note written in January, 1875, 
by Sir Bartle Frere. Lord Lytton began by occupying- the town 
of Quetta, — which, it is true, he had a right to do under a treaty 
with the Khan of Kelat, in whose dominions it was,— and then de- 
manded of Shir Ali to receive English residents at Herat, Canda- 
har, and even Cabul. Lord Lytton was not at all embarrassed by 
the reply of the Amir ; he insisted that the engagements taken by 
Lord Northbrook were only £>ersonal assurances, and that what he 
demanded was exactly the same as that which had been demanded 
by his predecessors, — a statement which the Duke of Argyll called 
" audacious." Besides this, he used what might be called a diplo- 
matic stratagem, — as there are at all events no public documents 
which will bear out his statement, that " if the Amir does not wish 
to come to an understanding with us, Russia does, and she de- 
sires it at his expense." The result of all this was a rupture in 
the friendly relations of Afghanistan with India. It seemed 
as if Lord Lytton wished to throw Shir Ali into the arms of 
Bussia in order to have a pretext for the conquest of Afghanistan. 
Besides this it was said that military preparations were going on 
in India for the purpose of attacking the Russian possessions in 
Central Asia. It is known that at various epochs, and even dur- 
ing the Busso-Turkish war, envoys from the Sultan were per- 
mitted to go to Cabul, in order thence to go into Bussian Turk- 
istan, and endeavour to cause disaffection. As the Duke of Argyll 
said, if the English Government had the incontestable right of 
making these provisions and forming such projects, it would be 
rash to refuse Bussia the right of taking precautions against 
them. It was this which led. to the Bussian mission to Cabul, of 
which we have already spoken. 


In addition to this, English officers on several occasions had 
been "haunting the Turkoman steppes," a phrase of the Russian 
Minister which became very familiar from some of the de- 
spatches, and Captain Butler and Colonel Napier were sent by 
the Government in order to incite the Turkomans against Rus- 
sia. It is curious to see (and, of course, it can only be credited 
to actual ignorance) that when Mr. Giers called the attention of 
Lord Augustus Loftus to the presence of Captain Butler on the 
Persian frontier, the Ambassador insisted that he was simply a 
private traveller with no governmental authority of any kind, 
when we positively know that he had actually been sent out by 
Lord Lytton. If the Russians had chosen to use the same arms 
against the English Government which it so often turned against 
them, they would have spoken of this as a manifest breach of 
good faith. 1 

It was maintained in the Russian press that the Afghan war, 
and especially the treaty of Gundamuk, by which the foreign re- 
lations of Afghanistan were placed under British control, put an 
end to all the existing arrangements and understandings between 
England and Russia with regard to Central Asia. Even so emi- 
nent an authority as Professor Martens took this view. Subse- 
quently, after the evacuation of Afghanistan, the Russian Govern- 
ment admitted that it still acknowledged the force of the under- 
standing of 1873. But before entering upon this last phase of 
the relations of the two countries, it will be more convenient to 
speak of the conquest of the Turkomans and of the Russian ad- 
vance southward. 

It is mentioned in Chapter XV., that in the spring of 1874 
General Lomakin addressed a proclamation to various Turkoman 
tribes near the Attrek. 2 In November, at the request of the Indian 
Government, the British ambassador called the attention of the 
Russian Foreign office to the fact that the district between the 
Attrek and the Gurghan was unquestionably Persian territory, in 

1 See 'The Eastern Question,' by the Duke of Argyll, London, 1879, and 
* LaRussie et l'Angleterre dans l'Asie Centrale,' by Professor F. Martens, origi- 
nally published in the Revue du Droit International, in 1879, VoL xi. p. 
227. 2 See vol. ii., p. 385. 


which General Lomakin could not be justified in interfering. 
For once, the always amiable Mr. Westmann lost his patience, 
and after stating that the incident of this circular had been a mis- 
understanding which had been satisfactorily explained to the Per- 
sian Government, by which instead of naming the tribes by their 
proper appellations the General had generalised them as those 
tribes which were in the habit of repairing at times to Persian 
territory, he then expressed his surprise that an explanation 
should have been asked of an incident of not only so little import- 
ance of itself, but which solely concerned Kussia and Persia. It 
was not customary to interfere in the international relations be- 
tween two independent States, and he could not comprehend in 
what way this incident could affect Great Britain ; he even re- 
marked, "though not in the light of a recrimination," that when 
Great Britain had arranged the boundary between Persia and 
Afghanistan and had adjudged a portion of Seistan to the latter, 
no communication had been addressed to Kussia. 1 

It was about this time that the Indian Government, partly to 
prevent any excuses for a Russian attack on Merv, and partly to 
make it appear that the Afghans exercised authority in that re- 
gion, begged Shir Ali to request the Turkomans of Merv to give up 
the Russian artillerist Kidaief, who was a captive in their posses- 
sion. The Amir was obliged to reply, that as no Afghans dared visit 
that region, he had sent the message by Jewish merchants, who 
alone ran no risk of being captured. 2 In order to show English 
good will, the Viceroy also gave notice to Russia that the Amir 
intended to strengthen his authority in Maimena, his sovereignty 
over which had been acknowledged by the previous arrangement. 

Meanwhile, General Lomakin gradually advanced up the Attrek, 
receiving from time to time the submission of Turkoman Chiefs, and 
planting small forts and garrisons, the chief of which was Tchat. 
Similar preparations were carried on for some years, until the au- 
tumn of 1878, when a forward movement had been plaDned in 
view of the possibilities of war. The Russians were repulsed at 
the Turkoman stronghold of Hodja Kaleh, and took up their posi- 

1 Parliamentary Papers, Central Asia, No. 1 (1878), pp. 21-23. 

2 Kidaief was not released until just before the Russians occupied Merv. 


tion again at Tchat, where they were at one time almost cut off 
by the Tekke tribe. It was in reference to these operations that 
General Skobelef said: "We made a great mistake when we 
landed at Krasnovodsk. Instead of going ahead we dabbled about 
reconnoitring the country. A strong forward movement was not 
approved of by the Government, the result of which was that we 
gradually taught the Turkomans how to fight, and at last they 
fought so well that it needed a series of great campaigns to crush 

Just before this reverse at Hoclja Kaleh, a plan had been de- 
vised by England to head off the Russians by arranging for the 
occupation of Merv by* Persia, or at all events for its nominal an- 
nexation. The Russians, getting wind of this, easily persuaded 
the Persians that they were too weak to hold control over the 
Turkomans, and for their own part refused to agree to any such 

In 1879, General Lazaref, who had greatly distinguished him- 
self by his assault on Kars during the Russo-Turkish war, was 
appointed Commander-in-chief over the forces in the Transcas- 
pian country, and began earnest preparations for a campaign 
which it was hoped would be decisive. Lazaref was an Armenian, 
and up to the age of twenty had worked as a journeyman tailor 
in Baku. Afterward he was put into the army, became an offi- 
cer and captured Shamyl. For many years he lived in retreat 
on a modest pension, and at the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish 
war sent a petition to the Emperor asking to be employed even 
in the humblest capacity, upon which he was given a commission 
as Lieutenant-General and sent to Kars. He was a man over six 
feet high, broadly made, with a heavy jaw, prominent nose, and 
large gray eye, partly obscured by a heavy eyelid, but full of ob- 
servation and kindliness. 

Lazaref, in distinction to Lomakin, had a plan for the pacifi- 
cation of the Turkomans. Beginning with the Little Balkans, a 
chain of mountains called the Kiuren Dagh, Kopet Dagh, &c, 
runs southeastward to the neighbourhood of Herat. Nearly the 
whole distance, at the foot of the mountains, is a narrow strip of 
cultivable country, bearing the general name of the Attek, or 


mountain skirt, and terminating in the oases of Akhal and 
Tedjend, two very fertile regions, capable of supporting a million 
of inhabitants, and the headquarters of the most warlike tribes of 
Turkomans. Near Askabad begin the headwaters of the At- 
trek, which takes a generally westwardly course toward the 
Caspian, thus forming a great triangle with the mountains and 
the sea, in which were the pasturing grounds of the Turkomans, 
and making a position of advantage which, surrounded by a chain 
of forts on the two land sides, would suffice to hold the country 
in order. North of the mountains were the great Kara Kum, or 
Black Sands, an open desert, not indeed impossible to traverse, 
but inhospitable, uncultivable, and with little water. The plan 
of General Lazaref was, after defeating the Turkomans, to estab- 
lish himself somewhere near Askabad, and accordingly he ar- 
ranged an expedition to start out from two points — from Krasno- 
vodsk and from Tchikishlar, near the mouth of the Attrek. 
Owing to conveniences of transport and forage, the Tchikishlar 
route along the Attrek was considered the principal one. A tele- 
graphic cable had been laid down from Baku, and, in case that 
failed, a convention had been made with Persia by winch a tele- 
graph line was to be constructed from Tchikishlar to Askabad, 
and thus meet the European lines. The advance column started 
from Tchikishlar on June 18, 1879, under rather peculiar cir- 
cumstances ; for, in consequence of a heavy gale, the waters of 
the Caspian advanced so far on the land as to completely swamp 
the camp. Such an incident had not occurred since 1855, when 
the sea flowed inland for fifteen miles. 

The Russian force was nearly thirty thousand men, greater than 
that employed by General Kaufmann for the conquest of Khiva. 
Major Alikhanof, who has since risen to distinction and is now 
Governor of Merv (although at that time a very promising officer, 
he had been involved in an unfortunate duel which led to his 
disgrace), was with the detachment, and wrote letters to various 
Russian newspapers. He wrote from Tchikishlar on June 24th : 
" Our detachment, winch is destined to carry out a certain pur- 
pose, is very strong, exceeding in point of strength General 
Kaufmann's detachment which acted against Khiva. But it is 


necessary to bear in mind the circumstance that in all proba- 
bility the best half of our force will be expended in occupying 
various points, in order to secure our communication with the 
rear. Moreover, the conditions of the present expedition are 
totally different from those under which the Khivan expedition 
was effected. In 1873 Ave were entering a rich oasis, where, in 
case of necessity, we could obtain supplies. Consequently all our 
difficulty consisted in reaching that oasis. It is hardly probable 
that we shall obtain supplies in Akhal Tepe, and, therefore, if 
our hopes in obtaining supplies from Persia turn out illusory we 
shall be compelled, in the first instance, to carry them with us, 
and afterward to receive them from Tchikishlar. The detach- 
ment cannot take less than a two months' supply, which will ne- 
cessitate the employment of fifteen hundred carts and many 
thousand camels. Such a large train will naturally absorb a con- 
siderable portion of the detachment for its protection, and on 
deducting these the number of troops remaining for actual mili- 
tary operations will be inconsiderable, although it is stated that 
the necessary number of camels may always be obtained from the 
local Turkomans. Yet it is thought that this may have an in- 
jurious effect on the cultivation of the country." 1 

The difficulties of transportation predicted by Alikhanof oc- 
curred, and out of 10,000 camels only 400 remained at the end 
of the campaign- The camel, while very useful for ordinary cara- 
vans, is of little advantage for military transportation. The sol- 
dier and the camel are under conditions much opposed to each 
other, in which necessarily the man conquers, but the camel dies. 
Soldiers are obliged to rise early in such countries and make as 
long a march as possible before the sun is too warm, besides nu- 
merous halts during the march. The camel could not well start 
out until much later, because he must first eat, and after that he 
goes on about three miles an hour without stopping, but must 
halt early in the evening in a good pasturage. Besides that, the 
soldier is obliged to take care of the camels, and give them to 
drink, all of which comes out of the time necessary for his own 

1 Moscow Gazette, July 1/13, 1879. 


repose. The camel can only march easily with an average weight, 
which ought never to be augmented, for the obstinacy of the 
camel is such that he will be apt to lie down and refuse to pro- 
ceed farther. Soldiers, notwithstanding this, as they frequently 
take much more baggage than they should, load the camels too 
heavily, and great numbers of them die of fatigue. 1 

Unfortunately the camp at Tchikishlar was unhealthy, and 
the troops suffered greatly from dysentery, which was aggravated 
by the intense heat. Cases of scurvy also existed, and at Tchat 
there was an epidemic fever of variable character which was fatal 
in about twenty-five per cent, of the cases. General Lazaref was 
attacked at Tchikishlar by carbuncles, which were thought by 
some to be a form of plague which he might have got from an 
infected rug. He insisted on moving, was put in a four-horse 
vehicle, which took him as far as Tchat, where he had an opera- 
tion performed. Instead of waiting he pushed forward at four 
o'clock in the morning, and died before reaching the next sta- 

General Tergukasof, who had commanded a corps in the war 
in Asia Minor, had distinguished himself by several brilliant ex- 
ploits, had been promoted to be Lieutenant-General, and had re- 
ceived the St. George of the third class, an Armenian by birth, 
and about sixty years old, was appointed Lazaref *s successor ; but, 
before he arrived, General Lomakin hastened on, desirous, appar- 
ently, of reaping the glory of the campaign before his new chief 
should arrive. On September 10th the advanced detachments 
of two columns approached Geok Tepe, where a strong fortifica- 
tion had been constructed by the Tekkes, built of mud, but 
with very thick walls. The artillery did apparently little damage 
to the fortifications, although it was thought that many of the 
Turkomans were killed. An assault was ordered. This was 
equally unsuccessful, and although a victory was claimed at first 
by the Russians, 433 men, including 25 officers, were placed hors 
du combat, of which number 7 officers and 176 privates were 
killed. The loss was frightful, the percentage enormous — unpre- 

1 General Annenkof, 'L' oasis Akhaltekine,' iu the Nouvelle Revue, 1881. 


cedented. The strength of the battalions, after deducting the 
transport escort, was not more than from 250 to 300 men. It was 
necessary, therefore, for the Eussians to retreat to Beurma, an- 
noyed every night by the Tekkes, who frequently diverted the 
water at the halting places. From Beurma the main body of 
the Russians returned to Tchat on their way to Tchikishlar, and 
the expedition was for that j^ear given up. 

General Annenkof explains this defeat by the Russians having 
too closely followed the experience which they had learned in the 
last war. Then the Turks were possessed of long-range guns, 
and once this exposed position in range of fire passed, a rush was 
made for the fortifications, which were frequently taken by assault. 
"With the Turkomans the contrary was the case. There were few 
long-range rifles, and when the Russians arrived at the fortifica- 
tions, expecting no resistance, they were met with sabres and 
bayonets and compelled to give way. Attacks, according to Gen- 
eral Annenkof, should be made with masses of men and not in 
thin columns. One of the last Asiatics conquered said to a Rus- 
sian officer : " It is neither the fire of the cannon nor that of the 
breech-loading rifles which is frightful. It is to see a group of 
men with serried rank, without fear, without feebleness, who, with- 
out fearing the shot, march straight against several thousand 

It became absolutely necessary for Russia to take steps to 
break the Turkoman force and to regain prestige as soon as pos- 
sible. Nur Verdi Khan, who reigned both over the Tekkes of 
Akhal and the Tekkes of Merv, and who beat General Lomakin 
in 1879, can be considered a very lucky man. In 1855 he had 
beaten the Khivans, and then captured and killed their Khan 
Medemeh, whose head he sent to Khiva. From this time his 
pillaging forays increased to such an extent that, in 1861, a Per- 
sian army over twenty thousand strong, with thirty-three cannon, 
marched on Merv by the way of Sarakhs. The Persians were so 
sure of their victory that when the Tekkes proposed giving a thou- 
sand families as hostages, besides a thousand horsemen to the Per- 
sian service and a heavy money contribution, the Persian com- 
mander refused. The first day the Persians were completely 


beaten, all the artillery fell into the Turkomans' hands, and so 
many prisoners were made, that, although Khiva and Bukhara 
were excellent markets for slaves, prices fell so low that a grown 
man sold for only seven rubles and a half. The Tekkcs now had 
full swing. In 1879, they devastated the whole northeast of 
Khorasan, carrying off two thousand families into slavery. 

Therefore, in March of the next year, 1880, General Skobelef, 
who had the reputation of being the most brilliant general during 
the late war, was appointed commander-in-chief. He began slowly. 
Geok Tepe, the main fort of the Tekkes, was two hundred and 
fifty-eight miles from the Caspian, and the Russian outposts had 
been to some extent driven in by the Turkomans, who had even 
threatened to capture Krasnovodsk and Tchikishlar, and drive the 
Russians into the sea. The Russians, however, had held out in 
the little fort of Duzolum, on the Sumbar River, about tw T enty 
miles above Tchat. It was necessary to collect twenty thousand 
camels from distant places, to organise a regular transport service 
by sea, as well as to make a sort of port or landing-place at Kras- 
novodsk, for it was decided that the main line of advance should 
be from this point, the Tchikishlar route being only auxiliary. 
General Skobelef accepted at once the idea of General Annenkof, 
who had been for some years in charge of the railway transport 
of troops, for the construction of a railroad, and fortunately re- 
membered that some sixty miles which had been prepared for 
use in the Russo-Turkish war still remained in deposit in Bes- 
sarabia. This he obtained permission to use, and the construc- 
tion was at once begun, although it was practically of little use 
except toward the very close of the campaign. Skobelef, how- 
ever, through means of a small detachment sent out from Duzo- 
lum, captured the post of Bami, about two hundred miles from 
Krasnovodsk, which he immediately proceeded to make a base of 
supplies. In the middle of July he felt strong enough to make a 
reconnoissance in the direction of Geok Tepe, and although en- 
countering a considerable body of the enemy, succeeded in his 
object and returned to Bami after traversing a distance of one 
hundred and fifty miles in ten days. In the early part of Decem- 
ber the Russians established themselves much nearer to the 


Turkomans ; made a second reconnoissance ; and were soon after- 
ward joined by a small force of Turkistan troops, commanded by 
Colonel Kuropatkin, which, starting from near Khiva, had crossed 
the Kara Kum Desert and had made a march of over two hundred 
and sixty miles in eighteen days, arriving in perfect order, only 
two men having fallen ill during the march. After another recon- 
noissance on January 1st, 1881, an assault was made on Yangy Kala, 
a fortified post a little to the south of Geok Tepe, which was taken 
with slight loss, and three subsequent efforts of the Turkomans 
to retake it were repulsed. It now became necessary to lay a reg- 
ular siege to Geok Tepe, which was interrupted by the Turko- 
mans, who, on January 9th made a sortie, thirty thousand strong, 
against the trenches then being dug, protected by only twenty- 
six hundred men and twenty-four pieces of artillery. For a mo- 
ment the Tekkes succeeded in getting possession of the most ad- 
vanced work and part of the second parallel, as well as of four 
mounted cannon and three mortars ; but they were subsequently 
repulsed, and had to abandon all the captured guns except one. 
The siege continued with alternate bombardments and sorties 
until January 24th, when a mine was exploded under the ram- 
parts, and after a hand to hand encounter on the walls for about 
an hour, these were carried, and after still longer fighting the 
Russians became complete masters of the fort. The Turkomans 
fled through the opposite gate, pursued for ten miles by the Rus- 

'• Inside the fort we counted over four thousand dead bodies, 
and this number does not include the slain which almost filled 
the moats, and the masses sabred by the cavalry during the pur- 
suit. Judging from the fresh graves and the information ob- 
tained, the total loss of the enemy during the siege and in the 
sortie was very great. We found a large number of guns, includ- 
ing our own Berdan rifles, a number of field pieces with projec- 
tiles, several flags, kibitkas, stores of flour, forage, four thousand 
families, including the families of three Imams, and, moreover, 
seven hundred Persian prisoners. 

"The Russian loss between December 20th and January 12th, 
(O. S.) inclusive, is reported as follows : 1G officers killed and 


55 wounded (13 slightly). Rank and file, 267 killed and 770 
wounded (123 slightly)/' ! 

Besides the prisoners General Skobelef succeeded in releasing 
twelve hundred Persian slaves who were provided with sufficient 
means to reach their homes. He occupied Askabad and then re- 
turned to Bami. 

There was at this time no intention of advancing as far as 
Merv. Even if there had been, the Eussians had suffered too 
much themselves to go further. It was thought, however, that 
the crushing defeat of the Tekkes would be sufficient to keep 
them in order. So it proved. Skobelef, in March, 1881, was, at 
his own request, relieved of his command and replaced by Gen- 
eral Rohrberg, who had been distinguished by his administrative 
talents, and who received strict instructions to do all he could 
for the pacification of the country. 

Many of the Tekkes fled to Merv ; the remainder were sub- 
missive. Finding themselves treated leniently, the head men, 
including Tykma Sardar, the Tekke chief during the defence of 
Geok Tepe, were induced to come back and offer their formal 
submission. Three of the chiefs were persuaded to go to St. 
Petersburg, together with another Tekke from Merv who simply 
desired to see Russia. Tykma Sardar took with him his son, a boy 
ten years old, who was placed at school in St. Petersburg, with 
the promise of being made a page of the Emperor. The Tekkes 
were greatly impressed with their reception, and the presents 
given them by the Emperor and Empress, and their journey was 
not without results. Complete tranquillity has prevailed since 
that time in the Oasis of Akhal, and even cases of crime have 
been rare. 

The entire region east of the Caspian was constituted into a 
distinct province called the Transcaspian Territory, belonging to 
the military circumscription of the Caucasus. This was done on 
May 6, 1881, from which date the Tekke country was formally 
annexed by imperial ukase. The province was divided into three 
districts : Akhal Tekke, with Askabad as the chief administrative 

1 General Skobelef s Report, in the Russian Invalid, Jan. 21 /Feb. 2, 1881. 


centre, not only of the district but of the whole province ; Kras- 
novodsk; and Mangyshlak. General Rolirberg was subsequently, 
in April, 1883, succeeded by Lieutenant-General Komarof, who 
up to that time had been Chief of the Section of Military Educa- 
tion in the Caucasus. 

Meanwhile negotiations of various kinds were being carried 
on with the Tekkes of Merv. They were attracted to the bazaar 
which was established at Askabad, friendly messages of various 
kinds were sent to them, and in September, 1881, an effort was 
made to induce them to make a treaty with Russia. All attempts 
at brigandage were severely repressed, and after an attack made 
on a Russian topographer, Parfenief, reparation was exacted. 
Even before this, Mr. Lessar had been sent to explore the coun- 
try through the Tedjend oasis to the immediate neighborhood of 
Herat, in order to ascertain whether it was feasible to continue 
the railway. It had been found that the distance between Kyzyl- 
Arvat, the terminus of the railway, and Askabad, owing to the bad- 
ness of the road frequently required much time for travellers and 
couriers ; but before extending the line it was desirable to know 
what existed beyond. 

The importance of Merv has been very greatly exaggerated. 
The population had been estimated at as high as 500,000, and 
even 900,000 souls, and the Russian explorers — even those who, 
like Alikhanof, had been in Merv itself — estimated it as at least 
230,000. A survey made since the occupation shows the oasis to 
contain 2,580 square miles, and about 194,000 inhabitants. In 
this, however, are included many of the Akhal Tekkes who had 
retired there after the capture of Geok Tepe. There is no ques- 
tion but that in ancient times a great and populous city existed 
here. Antiochia Margiana, as the town was called, was built by 
Antiochus Soter, and during Arab domination in Central Asia it 
contained great schools of science and libraries, and was known 
as the ''Mother of the Cities of Asia," "Queen of the World." 
At present, however, scarcely the ruins exist of all this grandeur, 
and the palaces are now but a collection of mud huts. 

The Merv oasis is not even a natural oasis. The country is 
the same as that which extends north from the Attek to the ed^o 

MERV. xlix 

of Bukhara and Afghanistan. It owes its cultivation and its in- 
habitants to the irrigating canals drawn from the River Murghab. 
At the beginning of the oasis large dams divert the water into 
the two sections by means of two canals, along which dwell 
the two chief clans, Tokhtamysh and Atamysh. These clans 
are further subdivided into twenty-four families, each with its 
own name and dwelling in separate communities. The only 
occupations of the people are agriculture and cattle breeding, 
for what constituted almost their sole occupation— robbery and 
foraying — has now been put down. The bazaars are held in 
the open air, and the articles exchanged or sold at them are of 
the most primitive description, for manufactures scarcely exist, 
except the Turkoman carpets and embroideries made by the 
women, which are celebrated both far and wide. 

After the Russians had established themselves at Askabad, the 
Tekkes, finding that no further proceedings would be taken 
against them, gradually came back to their former settlements. 
The Mervis were cowed, and the Persians, taking advantage of 
the greater security of the country, began to occupy the Attek, or 
northern slopes of the mountains extending down to the valley 
of the Ted j end. Certain Mervis also obtained permission to settle 
in the same place, and this country, which for nearly a century 
had been a no man's land, would have been claimed by Persia, 
had not the Russians insisted that by the submission of the 
Turkomans it belonged to them. In order to obtain more ac- 
curate information, early in 1882 Lieutenant Alikhanof resolved 
io accompany a trading caravan which was being sent to Merv 
by Konshin & Co. of Moscow. So many Mervis had been at the 
bazaars at Askabad and elsewhere under Russian protection, that 
it was thought worth while to see whether any chance of trade 
existed at Merv itself. Alikhanof and Sokolof, a young officer 
who accompanied him, were so thoroughly disguised as Tartars 
that they made the expedition without difficulty, although with 
some danger, and, after an absence of five weeks in all, returned 
to Askabad with a good knowledge, not only of the oasis, but of 
the character and views of the chief inhabitants of Merv. 

The majority of the Mervis were convinced that there was lit- 


tie use of attempting to carry on their former mode of life, a 
conviction formed partly by the overpowering defeat adminis- 
tered to the Tekkes at Geok Tepe, but also by the impression 
created on the Merv Khans who had gone to the coronation of 
the Emperor Alexander III. As they said on returning : " There 
is no difficulty in killing off a thousand men who might come, 
but we who have been in Moscow have seen how many troops 
could be sent in case of need." In the summer of 1883, however, 
the journey of the Shah of Persia into Khorasan produced some 
excitement, as rumours were spread that the Persians intended to 
come to Tedjend and Merv, and occupy them. Although these 
rumours were denied from Askabacl, yet some of the wilder spirits 
took advantage of the confusion to go out in the autumn on ala- 
mans, or forays, against Persia and the Tekkes. People still re- 
membered the promises and exhortations of O'Donovan. Be- 
sides that, a mysterious stranger of unknown nationality had 
appeared, first at Penjdeh, and subsequently at Merv, known by 
the name of Siah Push, or Black Robe. He professed to have a 
religious mission, but at the same time promised to defend Merv 
from the Russians and to have at hand a large army for the de- 
liverance of the true Mohammedans. His religious mission was 
not believed in, but he was thought by all to be a political agent, 
though not blessed with too much money ; for one band of sixty- 
horsemen hired for him had dispersed, not receiving their pay, 
and in Yulatan Sary Khan, whom he had persuaded to join him, 
not receiving the promised money and acting still more energeti- 
cally, arrested Siah Push and kept him in chains until he was 
ransomed by the Jews of Yulatan. Siah Push had been joined 
by several other foreigners, among them one Afghan and two 
Indians. "When the damans began in the summer of 1883, the 
whole steppe became agitated. After the harvest the forays be- 
came still more frequent, so that in August some of the peace- 
fully inclined inhabitants, among them the widow of Nur 
Verdi Khan, and her son, informed the Russian authorities at 
Askabad of the departures of robbers, of the constant arrival 
at Merv of prisoners and stolen goods, and of the complete 
anarchy which reigned. Part of the inhabitants were ready to 


emigrate to Herat ; others thought of going to Meshed and ask- 
ing the protection of Persia, while still others came to Askabad 
and asked permission to settle near Karry Bend and old Sarakhs. 
From the whole of the Tekkes complaints constantly came of the 
Mervis, which, although greatly exaggerated, were still serious. It 
became necessary to support the peacefully disposed party at 
Merv, and for that purpose a detachment was sent out in No- 
vember to Karry Bend. General Komarof, however, refused to 
enter into friendly relations with the people of Merv, or to receive 
a deputation from them until they had first sent back all the 
prisoners who had previously been taken, and surrendered the 
stolen property. This was done. Among the other prisoners 
was Kidaief, the Russian artillerist, captured in the Khivan cam- 
paign, of whom mention has been previously made. When these 
prisoners were surrendered a deputation of influential people 
came to ask that Merv should become subject to Russia ; the re- 
quest was granted, and the four chief Khans and twenty-four 
other influential personages took the oath of allegiance to the 
Emperor on February 12, 1884. As has frequently been noted, 
the oath of allegiance has a different meaning in Russia and Asia, 
and considering the extreme independence of Merv, it was 
thought best not to count too much on this until the population 
allowed the peaceful occupation of the country. A small expedi- 
tion was immediately sent there and occupied the oasis with very 
slight opposition, only forty or fifty Turkomans being killed in 
the skirmishes and one Russian soldier. No executions or pun- 
ishments were made, and Siah Push and the other foreign agita- 
tors were delivered up and subsequently sent to Russia, where 
they are still living. On March 16th the Russian troops, without 
opposition, began to build a fortress near Kaushid-Kala, the chief 
place of the oasis. It required but a very short time to bring 
order into the country. The population began to devote itself 
seriously to agriculture. Cotton and mulberry seeds were dis- 
tributed and planted, and the whole region now wears a new 

After the Russian frontier had been advanced as far as Askabad, 
it became very necessary to make some arrangement with Persia 


about the frontier line. The Persian limits on the east had never 
been exactly established. The Eussians at one time had claimed 
the whole course of the Attrek up to the source, which would 
have brought them near to the Persian town of Kushan. Finally 
an arrangement was reached, and a treaty was made on Decem- 
ber 21, 1881, settling the boundaries, which start from the mouth 
of the Attrek, follow the course of the river up to Tchat, then take 
the line of the mountains between the Sumbar and the Attrek to 
the Kopet Dagh near the Giamab pass, and then south of the 
main range of mountains to a point southeast of Askabad called 
Baba Durmaz, the beginning of the Tedjend oasis. The Persians 
ceded the small district of Giamab, to the west of Askabad ; prom- 
ised not to sell any arms or ammunition to the Turkomans ; 
agreed to assist in the construction of wagon-roads suitable 
for commercial traffic between the Transcaspian country and 
Khorasan ; and furthermore promised that they would permit 
no fresh settlements, any larger cultivation or any further di- 
gressing of the water of the small rivers which, taking their rise 
in Persian territory, water the Russian slopes of the mountains. 
This last provision was the more necessary because an analysis of 
various samples of water in the Transcaspian territory had 
proved that the majority of them are unfit for drinking or even 
for use in steam-boilers. 

When it came to carrying this treaty into effect there was 
first a dispute about the settlement of Hassan Kuli, at the mouth 
of the Attrek, the river entering the Caspian by two branches. 
The English minister at Teheran was greatly exercised over this 
matter, fearing lest Persia might be defrauded of some rights, 
and afterwards troubled himself greatly over the fact that the 
new delimitation committee did not meet as soon as he expected. 
Subsequently all difficulties were arranged, and the Commission 
began work in the autumn of 1883, starting from Baba Durmaz, 
and not, as originally intended, from the mouth of the Attrek, 
thus leaving the disputed question of the mouth of the Attrek 
until the end. It was understood that by building a dam, the 
whole course of the river would be turned into the southern 
branch, which naturally leaves Hassan Kuli on Russian soil. 


From Baba Durmaz southeastward there was no attempt to 
fix the boundary, which was left undefined. 

In February, 1882, Lord Granville, in conversation with the 
Russian Ambassador, proposed that England, Russia, and Persia 
should come to an agreement for the settlement of the boundary 
from Baba Durmaz until it met that of Afghanistan, and for its 
subsequent demarcation by English, Russian, and Persian offi- 
cers. Prince Lobanof replied that ho was not aware of any con- 
testation between the Russian and Persian Governments as to 
their respective frontiers, that the delimitation had been made as 
far as practicable for the moment, and that if in the future it be- 
came necessary to define it further, it was a matter to be settled by 
the two conterminous states. Subsequently, by instructions of 
Prince Gortchakof, he stated that the Russians were ready to 
complete the agreement made formerly between Russia and Eng- 
land, by settling the frontier of Afghanistan which had been left 
undefined from the point where it left the Oxus. The English 
objected to anything being arranged with regard to the Afghan 
frontier, stating frankly that they wished to keep Russia as far from 
Afghanistan as possible ; that they thought the time had been 
reached when all that was necessary for protection against the 
Turkoman brigandage had been occupied ; that if they went fur- 
ther, the tribes living at Merv might take refuge in the Afghan 
dominions and thus cause further disputes and trouble. England, 
therefore, proposed that the oasis of Ted j end should be given to 
Persia. This the Russians strongly objected to. They had 
never interfered with any arrangement between Afghanistan and 
England, and they considered that they themselves should have 
a similar liberty to make whatever arrangement they pleased with 
the conterminous tribes and petty peoples. They said that there 
would be strong objections to acknowledging Persian authority 
over the strip of territory between Baba Durmaz and Sarakhs, 
as it would deprive them of the means of defence against the in- 
roads of the Turkomans, which the Persians had no power to re- 
press. Prince Lobanof insisted that Persia had never had any 
right over the Attek, that is the slopes of the mountains, or be- 
tween that and the river Tedjend. He believed that the occupa- 


tion of that country by Persia would have an effect contrary to 
that expected by England, for it would create such a state of dis- 
order that not only would the people of Merv come westward for 
purposes of plunder, but that the Attek Turkomans would make 
excursions into Russian territory, and attack Russian caravans, 
so that the Russian military authorities would be compelled to 
invade that region to put them down. Mr. Giers again pressed 
the delimitation of the Afghan boundary, from Khodja Saleh to 
the Persian frontier, in the neighbourhood of Sarakhs. The 
Persians meanwhile had refused to establish and maintain any 
authority over the Tekke Turkomans, and had resolved to abstain 
from any interference with the Merv and Tedjend districts, on 
the ground of the great inconvenience and expense which a mili- 
tary operation of this kind would be to them. This question 
rested for some time, coming up again only incidentally in Feb- 
ruary, 1883, when, in reply to an incident arising in the journey 
of Mr. Condie Stephen through the Attek, the Russians stated 
that it was quite impossible to admit that the Attek could be con- 
sidered as an integral part of Persia, and, subsequently, at the end 
of October, the English Ambassador at St. Petersburg inquired 
of Mr. Giers whether he could give him any further details with 
regard to the proposed line of boundary from Baba Durmaz to 
the Tedjend. The answer was, that there had never been any of- 
ficial negotiations on this subject with the Persian Government, 
for neither side had made their necessary surveys, which could 
not be made until the next summer, and that until these were 
completed it would be impossible to decide what direction the 
proposed boundary should take. 1 

The third phase of Russian relations with England, which at 
one time reached a very acute stage, began immediately after the 
occupation of Merv on February 29, 1884. A few days after the 
intention of the Emperor to accept the allegiance of the Khan of 
Merv had been officially announced to the English Government, 
Lord Granville sent to St. Petersburg a long memorandum, in 
which he recapitulated the assurances which had been given on 

1 Parliamentary Papers: Central Asia, No. 1 (1884). 


this subject during several years, and ended by wishing to know 
what " proposals the Russian Government may have to make in 
order to provide against the complication to which this further 
extension of Russian sovereignty in the direction of the frontiers 
of Afghanistan may give rise." ' The Russians replied that they 
had no formal proposals to make, "as it certainly would be very 
natural that, considering the interpretation put upon our former 
assurances, we should be in future very careful of any fresh assur- 
ances demanded of us." 2 After speaking of an inquiry being 
necessary as to the most practicable method of organising the gov- 
ernment of Merv, Mr. Giers stated that the imperial cabinet was 
" determined to respect, as in the past, all arrangements previously 
concluded between the two governments," and repeated the sug- 
gestion which had been made in 1882, that the boundary line of 
Afghanistan should be exactly marked out from Khodja-Saleh 
westward. The Russians could not admit that they deserved any 
reproach for " want of the courtesy due to a friendly power in 
bringing it face to face with an accomplished fact respecting 
which assurances had been given." "They held that the full 
liberty of action which the two governments had reserved to them- 
selves, apart from the special arrangements concluded between 
them, would entitle them to consult their own convenience in re- 
gard to Merv ; " but that they so prized their cordial relations 
with England as to have wished to explain themselves fully if they 
had foreseen the determination of the Mervites ; "they would at 
all events have endeavoured, had the matter depended upon them, 
to prevent the decision being taken at a moment when Her Maj- 
esty's Government were embarrassed by the affairs of the Sou- 
dan." 3 

The Russians meanwhile, at the end of 1883, had complained 
that Afghan troops had been sent from Badakshan into Shugnan, 
and had taken possession of that country, whereas Shugnan and 
Roshan, by the very terms of the agreement of 1872-73 had not 
been included within the limits of Afghanistan. The English 
now replied that they had made inquiries on this subject and be- 
1 Central Asia, No. 2 (1885), p. 12. 

2 id., P . io. 3 id. ? p. ie. 

lvi TU11KISTAN. 

lieved that Shugnan was a component part of Badakshan ; but, at 
the same time, as the Indian Government had not sufficient 
knowledge to pronounce a decided opinion upon the subject, they 
would be happy to consider the question in concert with Russia, 
and to send a commissioner to make an investigation on the 
spot. ' 

The same day, April 29, 1884, they accepted the proposal for 
the delimitation of the frontier of Afghanistan, and proposed that 
the same Commission should continue the delimitation eastward 
from Khodja Saleh even as far as Kashgaria. Mr. Giers thought 
that it would be better to begin by the settlement of the bound- 
ary from Khodja Saleh westward, and, on May (3) 15, 1884, formally 
accepted the appointment of a commission to visit the districts to 
be delimited, and to endeavour to ascertain the principles under 
which a frontier line might be traced ; but. he objected to any 
Afghan official being made a part of the commission, which should 
be confined to England and Russia. 2 The English hastened to 
close this matter, and in the middle of June stated that they were 
of opinion that the Commission should meet at Sarahks on the 
left bank of the Heri-rud on the first of October. On this the 
Russian Government made two remarks : First, that it would be 
advisable previously to sending the Commissioners to the spot, 
that the two governments should come to an agreement on the 
general bases of the future delimitation, so as to avoid differences 
of action and misunderstandings between the Commissioners ; 
and secondly, that it would be far easier to begin the delimitation 
at Khodja Saleh, a point which was absolutely fixed by the pre- 
vious arrangement as the extreme point of the Afghan possessions 
on the Amu Darya or Oxus. 3 On July 10th Lord Granville 
announced that the English much preferred that the work 
of delimitation should begin from the western end of the bound- 
ary, because " the British Commissioners must pass through 
Sarakhs in order to arrive at Khodja Saleh, and it would be a use- 
less waste of time for them to go over the ground a second time ; 
and, the western portion being that where the most important 

1 Central Asia, No. 2 (1885), p. 27. - Id., p. 42. 3 Id., p. 52. 


interests are at stake, and where there is the most likelihood of 
complications arising that might hinder a satisfactory settlement, 
it should be dealt with first," and therefore, that it would be 
best to fix first the point where the Afghan frontier joins the Heri- 
rud. He thought also that if there were points on which the 
Commission were unable to agree they could be referred to the 
decision of the two governments. 1 

The Russians defended their proposal for the reason that it 
was the first time that a Russian-English Commission was to be 
entrusted with the marking out a frontier in Central Asia ; that, 
therefore, there would be always great difficulty in beginning, on 
account of the differences in opinion between the respective Com- 
missioners as to the manner in which they were to carry out 
their instructions, which would doubtless gradually be sur- 
mounted as they became more familiar with the questions at 
issue, and as they became better acquainted with each other ; 
but that it was impracticable to set them to work at the most 
difficult part of their task. The fixing of the starting-point of 
the boundary on the Heri-rud, would be a question on which, 
undoubtedly, the Commissioners would differ, and they would 
find it necessary to report home to their governments for instruc- 
tions. Were they then to suspend their work and wait until 
this dispute was examined and settled, which might take a long 
time ? And was this same process to continue at each moment 
when a disputed point arose? Meanwhile, the native popula- 
tions, not understanding the nature of the relations between 
Russia and Great Britain, would immediately see evidences of 
hostility. It was not the desire of either power to see such 
errors propagated. 2 

The Russians, however, ultimately agreed to accept the Eng- 
lish proposal, but meantime wished instructions to be given as to 
the basis on which the boundary should be laid down, whether 
ethnographical, topographical, geographical, or all three, always 
going on the principle of the old agreement, that nothing should 
necessarily and by right be included in Afghanistan, except ac- 

1 Central Asia, No. 2 (1885), p. 56. 2 . Id. , p. 64. 


cording to the principles laid down in 1872-73. The Russians 
laid stress on the fact that the territory south of Merv was in- 
habited by the Saryk tribe of Turkomans, whose settlement ex- 
tended from Yulatan on the Murghab, up to the neighbourhood 
of the Afghan outposts. This tribe, which was always notorious 
for its pillaging propensities, was in a permanent state of hos- 
tility with the inhabitants of Merv ; but since that time they had 
in their turn come to beg for the protection of the Russian au- 
thorities. The success of the Russian efforts to establish peace 
among the nomad tribes would depend greatly upon whether 
the whole tribe of Saryks were placed under their domination, or 
whether insurmountable difficulties were to be made by putting- 
part of them within the limits of Afghanistan. 1 

Meanwhile, without waiting for the issue of these negotiations 
on questions of principle, the English Government appointed 
Major-General Sir Peter Lumsden chief commissioner for mark- 
ing out the boundary, assisted by Mr. Alexander Condie Stephen, 
then second secretary of the British legation at Teheran, a young 
diplomatist of great energy and acquirements, and of considerable 
experience. They arranged the details of the escort, and an- 
nounced to the Russian Government that he would be ready to 
meet the Russian commissioner at Sarakhs on October 1st. This 
was on July 16th. Even before this, on June 10th, the Viceroy 
of India had notified the Amir of the intention of forming a com- 
mission of delimitation, and had requested him to send an ex- 
perienced Afghan officer to assist in the work. It is curious to 
note that in his reply the Afghan Amir says : " There does not 
exist in my personal establishment, or in the train of officials in 
this government, any man possessed of the necessary qualifica- 
tions and knowledge of the frontiers, to be able to distinguish 
Afghan territory from that of others ; nor do I know of any one 
whom I could implicitly trust on account of his intelligence and 
penetration with such an important work as this." He hoped, 
however, that he would find on each frontier men sufficiently 
qualified to give proper answers to questions relating to the de- 

1 Central Asia, No. 2 (1885), p. 75. 


tails of that particular border.' Previously, more than a year be- 
fore, he had written to the Viceroy, requesting a map of this 
very frontier, in order that he might know how far his dominions 
extended, — a map which the English were unable to give him for 
the reason that all were erroneous, and none knew exactly where 
the boundaries were to be placed. 2 

The English seemed determined to extend the territory of 
Afghanistan as far as possible to the north, and Colonel Stewart, in 
a report dated March 19, 1884, laid great stress on the District of 
Pen j deli. 3 The occupation of this territory was important to the 
Russians, partly because it was the headquarters of the Saryk 
Turkomans, and partly because it was the beginning of the fertile 
country on the other side of the desert, and therefore their fur- 
ther frontier outposts would be assured of forage and supplies. 
Before the commission had been finally decided upon — on June 
9th — the Times published an article suggesting that the Afghans 
at once occupy this district, which, although perhaps claimed, had 
never been in their actual possession. Upon this the Russians 
immediately protested ; and subsequently, in giving the definitive 
consent to the despatch of the commission, felt obliged to remind 
the British Ambassador that the territorial encroachments of the 
Afghans could not fail to create serious obstacles to the delimita- 
tion. On June 21st, the very day of the protest of Mr. Giers, an 
Afghan expedition really started from Bala Murghab, and occupied 
Penjdeh a week later. When news of this was received at St. 
Petersburg, it was thought necessary to retaliate b}^ extending the 
Russian outposts to Pul-i-khatun ; and when the Afghans later 
advanced to Sary Yazi, the Russian troops took possession of 
Zulfikar and Ak-tepe. The Russians at the same time, finding 
that their friendly representations had not prevented the invasion 
of Penjdeh by the Afghans, in order to prevent a deviation from 
the principles laid dow r n in 1872-73, proposed that an understand- 
ing should be arrived at as to the limits of the zone which should 
form the object of the investigations of the commissioners. No 
reply of the British Government was made until the beginning 

1 Central Asia, No. 2 (1885), p. 81. 2 Id., No. 1 (1884), p. 84 

3 Id., No. 2(1885), p. 33. 


of November, when, while recognizing the advantage of the zone 
of operations, the English still contended that this should be left 
to the respective commissioners, and that before coming to an 
understanding on this subject, the English commissioner was 
bound to consult with the delegate of the Amir. For although 
the reply of the Amir had been received, stating that he could 
not name a delegate, no attention seems to have been paid to it 
at London. In order to hasten the solution of the question — for 
while General Lumsden had arrived on the spot, the Russian com- 
mission, consisting of General Zelenoi and Mr. Lessar, had 
been detained — the Russians proposed that the northern limit 
of the zone be a line drawn from Dauletabad, on the Heri- 
rud, straight to the Murghab, which it would cross above 
Imam Baksh, and thence to Khodja Saleh ; and that the 
southern limit should follow the mountains and the chain of 
heights which border on the north the Valley of Herat, and which, 
according to the opinion of Colonel McGregor in 1875, form 
the real frontier of Afghanistan. As the oasis of Penjdeh had 
only been recently occupied by the Afghans, it was included in 
the zone. It was not intended that these lines should prejudice 
the direction of the boundary line, the tracing of which was to 
form the subject of a future understanding, either between the 
commissioners or their governments ; but it was intended to pre- 
vent disputes between the commissioners as to the scope to be 
given to the survey and sketching operations, and at the same time 
to furnish guaranties that the line of the future frontier should not 
be affected by the territorial changes consequent upon the en- 
croachment of the Afghans, and that the Russian commissioner 
should not be prevented from visiting those localities, a preliminary 
examination of which would form an essential element of future 
delimitation. 1 Lord Granville in reply, December 23d, was will- 
ing to accept the idea of a zone, but still maintained that it should 
be settled by the commissioners. He, however, accepted the 
northern line proposed by the Russians, but refused to accept the 
southern line without previous consultation with the Afghans. 2 

1 Central Asia, No. 2 (1885), p. 110. 2 Id. , p. 117. 


In order to prevent the negotiations from coming to a dead- 
lock, M. de Giers then, on January 28, 1885, made a new proposal, 
that the line of demarcation should begin about six miles south 
of Zulfikar, and, following the crest of heights with a little curve 
to the south, should cross the Kushk near Chemen-i-bid and the 
Murghab a little north of Marutchak, which was to be left to 
Afghanistan, and then follow the crest of heights and the edge of 
the cultivable land, passing westward of Maimena, and then 
straight from that place to Khodja Saleh through the desert. 
This would give all the territory between that and the boundary 
spoken of by Colonel McGregor to Afghanistan, provided that 
the Amir undertook not to erect fortifications which might be- 
come a source of menace to the inhabitants on the other side of 
the frontier. On the other hand, the Penjdeh oasis, inhabited ex- 
clusively by Turkomans whose fellow tribemen had made their 
submission to the Russian authorities, would be left within the 
Russian sphere of action. l Mr. Lessar was thereupon sent to 
London in the capacity of an expert, in order to assist the Rus- 
sian ambassador in his negotiations with England on this basis. 

In reply to this proposition, the English, on March 13th, made 
a counter-proposal that they would accept the boundary line re- 
cently proposed as the southern limit, or zone of investigation, 
while the northern limit should be drawn from Shir-Tepe on the 
Heri-rud to Sary-Yazi on the Murghab. 2 To this, in a memo- 
randum dated March 15/27, the Russians refused to adhere, 3 
on the ground that the zone was far from affording the grounds 
of impartiality required, while it withdrew from the scope the 
territory included between the Russian line and the boundary 
stated by Colonel McGregor, who, although not officially sent 
there, was still a field officer in actual service, and who was de- 
sirous of discovering the best means of assuring British interests 
in Asia against the base designs which he attributed to Russia. 
On the contrary, it extended the jurisdiction of the commission 
to districts then occupied by Russian troops, and where not the 
slightest trace of Afghan population or interest existed. In the 

1 Central Asia, No. 2 (1885), p. 148. 2 Id., p. 167. 3 Id., p. 189. 


same memorandum the Russians expressed their regret at the 
delay which had taken place in the departure of General Zelenoi, 
but stated that it was the invasion of Penjdeh by the Afghans, 
and not their commissioner's delay, which had prevented the ne- 
gotiations from following their natural course. 

To this document Lord Granville on April 4th objected, and 
objected even to the idea that the boundary line proposed by 
Russia should be taken as the base of investigation for the com- 
mission. a 

The negotiations had come again to a deadlock, when a con- 
flict between the Russian and the Afghan forces near Penjdeh 
brought the two countries almost to the verge of war. 

During these negotiations there had been various movements 
of troops within the disputed district. The Afghans, as we know, 
had occupied Penjdeh, and the Russians had advanced in retalia- 
tion. But in addition to these the British Commissioner had a 
large escort of four hundred soldiers, without counting camp fol- 
lowers. The Russians had originally remonstrated against this 
large number of troops, but the English Government seemed to 
think that no change could be made at that time. The appear- 
ance of a military mission, or what seemed to be such, was natu- 
rally looked on by the Afghans as a promise of support, and an 
encouragement to their pretensions. Besides this, English offi- 
cers were not infrequently present with the Afghan troops, held 
constant communication with them, and, as the sequel proved, 
endeavoured at times to negotiate between them and the Russians. 
These various movements, which were exaggerated in reaching 
London, excited public feeling to such an extent that it seemed 
desirable to make an arrangement by which either all troops 
should be withdrawn, or they should promise to go no further. 
Several dispatches were exchanged on this matter ; but no defi- 
nite agreement had been made, the Russians still insisting that 
so long as the Afghans were present at Penjdeh they had the 
right to move troops up to the boundary which they had pro- 
posed, when on March 13, 1885, Mr. Gladstone astonished his 

1 Central Asia, No. 2 (1885), p. 196. 


colleagues and the Russian Government by announcing in Par- 
liament that an arrangement had been made that no further ad- 
vance should be made by the Afghan or Russian forces. Lord 
Granville the next day telegraphed to the British Embassy to 
inquire whether the Russian Government would agree that what 
had passed between them should constitute an agreement to the 
effect stated by Mr. Gladstone. 1 The only assurances of the Rus- 
sians up to that time had been one on February 24th, when 
Mr. Giers said that the Russian Government could not accede 
to the request that the advanced Russian posts at Pul-i-khatun 
and Zulfikar should be withdrawn, but that stringent orders had 
been issued to the Russian officers to avoid conflicts with the 
Afghans, and that he felt convinced that none would take place 
unless the Afghans should actually attack the Russians and com- 
pel them to defend themselves. He said further, that on no ac- 
count would a Russian force advance beyond the boundary line 
which had been proposed. Even subsequently, on the (3d) 15th of 
March, Mr. Giers declined to make any engagement that the 
Russian troops should not make any movement within the line 
which had been proposed to Her Majesty's Government as the 
boundary of Afghanistan. Mr. Gladstone had evidently been 
speaking from a confused remembrance of what had taken place ; 
but the Russian Government were willing to give him the ap- 
pearance of being right. When Sir Edward Thornton applied to 
him to support Mr. Gladstone, as a question would be asked in 
Parliament the same evening, he made the same reply as before. 
Sir Edward Thornton then said that he understood that Rus- 
sian troops occupied posts at Pul-i-khatun, Zulfikar, Ak-Robat, 
Ak-Tepe and Pul-i-khisti, and that he had more than once been 
assured that no attack would be made on Penjdeh or upon any 
Afghan force unless the Russians were attacked by the Afghans. 
Would Mr. Giers authorize him to announce that Russian 
troops would not advance from the positions they now occupied 
unless the Afghans on their side should advance from their posi- 
tions ? Mr. Giers found it necessary to consult with the War 

1 Central Asia, No. 2 (1885), p. 171. 


Department and take the orders of the Emperor, and subse- 
quently consented to that request. This was telegraphed to Lon- 
don, and read in Parliament on March 16th, and has been known 
since, on account of the expression used about it by Mr. Glad- 
stone, as the " sacred covenant" 

In this arrangement a great mistake was made. Sir Peter 
Lumsden, acting on insufficient information, had telegraphed to 
London that the Kussians were actually in occupation of Ak-Tepe 
and Pul-i-Khisti, which was not the case. Subsequently he ex- 
plained that he had used Pul-i-Khisti as being the better known 
name, but that the Kussians really had never been nearer than 
one mile of that place. 1 This statement, however, having been 
made officially, the Kussian Foreign Minister understood this to 
form part of the agreement, and that the Kussian troops would 
be allowed to occupy those places provided they w T ent no further. 
This understanding was telegraphed by him to General Komarof, 
the Russian commander. Some days later General Komarof 
made an advance toward Pul-i-Khisti, a bridge over the Kushk, 
known also as Dash-Kepri, or Stone Bridge, but, finding the Af- 
ghan outpost on the side of the river which he occupied, posted 
himself at some distance in order to avoid a conflict. According 
to his reports the Afghans, not appreciating his motives, grew more 
and more threatening, and finally, acting on the advice of Captain 
Yates, an English officer, refused to withdraw, when, on March 
30th, a conflict came on. The Afghans were driven back across 
the Kushk, w r ere defeated, and retired in disorder with consider- 
able loss. The Russian troops pursued them across the river, 
but subsequently retired to the position allowed by the agree- 

When this w^as known in London it caused great excitement. 
The English Ministers spoke of it as an apparent infraction of 
the agreement, and demanded explanations and satisfaction from 
Russia. Sir Peter Lumsden, on being appealed to, gave a very 
different account from the Russian one, 2 and excitement mounted 

1 Central Asia, No. 5 (1885), p. 2. 

2 General Komarof s report is printed in Central Asia, No. 5 (1885), p. 9, 
and Sir Peter Lumsden's, id., p. 27. 


so high that most of the newspapers called out for immediate 
war. Troops were despatched to the Indian frontier, the fleet 
was put in readiness, ships were hired for transport, and the 
Government found no difficulty in obtaining a grant of £11,000,- 
000, parti}-, it is true, to enable them to withdraw their troops 
from the Soudan, and partly for war with Russia. 

Gradually, however, under more careful study of the docu- 
ments in the case, the English began to find that possibly there 
might be mistakes on both sides. After each country had main- 
tained its position for a while, it was agreed to refer the question 
as to the interpretation of the agreement between the two cabi- 
nets, if there remained any doubts or differences of opinion, to 
the judgment of some foreign sovereign. This agreement was 
reached on May 4, 1885. ' 

Even when the military question was most burning, it was 
thought possible still to continue negotiations with regard to the 
settlement of the boundary. On April 13th, Lord Granville had 
an interview with the Eussian Ambassador, and spoke of a propo- 
sition which had come from an independent source, which was 
to the effect that now that the Afghans had retired from the de- 
batable land, the Russian troops should also retire, leaving only 
the necessary escort at Pul-i-khatun, to await the arrival of the 
commissioners ; that the Afghans should not return ; that the 
commission should proceed to work immediately, and should 
settle as soon as possible the line extending from the Heri-rud 
to the Murghab, and that both commissioners should be fur- 
nished with identical instructions, based on those which had pre- 
viously been given to Sir Peter Lumsden, viz. : "that they should 
be guided in defining the jurisdiction of the Amir by the political 
relations of the tribes which occupy the country ; but whilst rec- 
ognising all the legitimate rights of the Amir, the commission, 
in order to reduce to a minimum the risk of future complications, 
should bear in mind the importance of not imposing upon him 
obligations which he would be unwilling to assume, or could not 
in practice fulfil." After some conversation, the Russian Ambas- 

1 Central Asia, No. 5 (1885), p. 41. 


sador explained that the last condition meant that no territory- 
north of the boundary line proposed by Russia should be given 
to Afghanistan. 1 This condition was not entirely acceptable to 
England, who wished besides that the Russian troops should 
withdraw before any farther negotiations were entered into. This 
was refused, as it might give rise to anarchy ; but the Russians 
proposed to displace their outposts on the arrival of the commis- 
sioners on the spot, when each side should be bound to establish 
•posts on the frontier, and thenceforth be responsible for the 
maintenance of order in the territory assigned to it, and that the 
escort of the commissioners should be reduced to not more than 
one hundred for each side. On April 24th, Lord Granville ac- 
cepted this proposal and agreed to consider with the Russian 
Ambassador the main features of the line of boundary, the detail.3 
of which only should be fixed on the spot, "relying on the as- 
surance given in the Russian memorandum of March 30th, that 
the Russian Government had never entertained, and do not en- 
tertain, any projects of aggression against Herat, or any other 
portion of the territories of the Amir." a It was also agreed on 
May 1st to neutralise the district until the frontier question 
should be decided ; and that both Russian and Afghan officers 
and soldiers should be prohibited from entering or remaining in 
Penjdeh, the limits of which were understood to extend nearly to 
the point north of Marutchak, at which the boundary line pro- 
posed by Russia should pass through the valley. 3 

All this having been arranged, negotiations went on with 
slight hitches, until an agreement was finally reached, that what 
was practically the Russian boundary line should be accepted as 
the basis of delimitation. The Russians gave in so far as to give 
up the possession of the Zulfikar pass to the Amir. This was not 
yet signed when there came the sudden change of the English 

1 Central Asia, No. 5 (1885), p. 11. 2 Id., p. 30. 3 Id., p. 39. 




The start — Prince Tchinghiz — The German Colonies on the Volga — Bashkirs — 
Uralsk — The Cossacks — Their great merits — Orenburg, the threshold of 
Central Asia — Old acquaintances — Our final preparations — Crossing the 
mountains — Orsk — The road through the steppe — Camels — Imaginary 
dangers — The steppe — Karabutak — Irghiz — The Aral Sea — Desert of Kara- 
Kum — Arrival at' Kazala — The Kirghiz— Their history and present con- 
dition — Their character and peculiarities — Their life — Amusements — 
Horse races — Marriages. 

I had long been desirous of visiting Central Asia, but various 
circumstances had prevented my doing so. 

Finally the opportunity presented itself unexpectedly to me ; 
and leaving St. Petersburg on the 23rd of March, 1873, pausing 
for a day at Moscow, I arrived in Saratof, some 940 miles, on 
the morning of the 26th, by rail. I was accompanied by 
Mr. J. A. MacGrahan, the Correspondent of the 'New York 
Herald,' whose desert ride, on his way to Khiva, was a few 
months later the subject of general wonder and admiration. 

I could not help thinking it a good augury for our journey 
that almost our only fellow-pa:senger in the carriage was Prince 
Tchinghiz, a lineal descendant of the famous Tchinghiz Khan, 
and son of the last Khan of the Bukeief Horde of Kirghiz. 
Strange, that on the threshold of Asia I should meet the descen- 
dant of its greatest conqueror ! After the death of his father, 
he, the eldest son, was given the Russian title of Prince, in 
memory of his ancient lineage, and of the services of his father. 

The Prince, who is a good Mussulman, had just returned from 

VOL. I. B 


Mecca, where he had been on a pilgrimage, and was going to 
spend the summer on his estates in the Government of Samara. 
He seemed a cultivated gentleman, and was most of the time 
deep in a French novel. 

From Saratof we were obliged to travel in sledge?, as the 
country was still covered with snow, though the violent thaw 
which had set in at Saratof made us fearful that the roads 
would be very bad. The remainder of the df y ^ r e spent at Saratof 
in purchasing various articles of outfit that we had previously 
neglected, and in making arrangements for our journey/ having 
to get a podorozhnaya or road-pass for post horses, as well as to 
lay in a stock of provisions. 

We finally got off at ten o'clock the next morning in two 
small, low sledges of country make, discovering just at starting 
that we should not have to go up the Volga to Samara by the 
usual route, but that we could take a cross-cut to Uralsk, and so 
to Orenburg, the snow-roads still being good. We accordingly 
struck across the Volga, where the ice showed no signs of weak- 
ness, and soon made our twenty-four miles to Krasny Yar, one 
of the German Colonies. The left bank of tne Volga in the 
neighbourhood of Saratof is for a long distance covered with 
German Colonies, some of them sectarians and Catholics, but the 
most of them Lutherans, who were induced to come here about 
1769 by the Empress Catherine II. They had certain privileges 
conferred upon them, one of which was exemption from military 
service, and are in a most flourishing state. It is very curious, 
however, to see that they have had no effect whatever upon the 
civilisation of the Eussian peasants who surround them, nor 
have they themselves at all changed by their contact with 
Eussians. The Colonists remain as German now as were their 
ancestors a hundred years ago, though many of them know some 
words and phrases of Eussian, which they speak with a most 
vile accent. In the German towns, which are close to each 
other, there are comfortable well-built houses, with neat roofs 
and fences, large and capacious barns and granaries, fine 
churches, and every evidence of prosperity. The Eussian 
villages near by are no better than those seen in any of the 
interior provinces. 

The Germans look with dislike and contempt upon the 
Eussians, a feeling which is returned by the latter with interest 


Intermarriages are very rare, and there is little intercom 
except for business. Some of the Germans themselves told m_ 
that both priests and pastors were equally to blame for this 
state of things, the Eussian priests inveighing against the 
Germans as heretics, and the Lutheran preachers condemning 
the Russians as idolaters. Other influences, too, have been at 
work to make the differences between these two classes. The 
Germans were exempt from military service, were never serfs, 
and were burdened in proportion with far less taxation. Their 
position was thus exceptional. 

The post stations here were always comfortable, and we 
were sure of finding good bread and butter, and always a cup 
of coffee, while at the Russian post villages it was impossible to 
procure anything more than black bread and an occasional egg. 
It was only at Nikolaiefsk, the single large town on our road, 
that we were able to get a meal, wretched, it is true, but hot, 
and therefore lingering in our memories for days, when in our 
benumbed state we gnawed at our wholly frozen provender, 
while bargaining at the stations for horses, and vainly trying to 
instil into lazy peasants a sense of the value of time. Not 
knowing whether we were to find snow or mud, we had pur- 
chased no vehicles, and were therefore obliged at every station 
to change our sledges as well as our horses, to our great discom- 
fort. At last, on the third day we reached Kuzebai, a Bashkir 
village, where we had our first glimpse of Oriental life. The 
houses were rudely built of clay, half under-ground, and with 
flat clay roofs, on which the dogs of the household were con- 
stantly promenading and barking at us. At the other end 
of the village rose the wooden cone-capped minaret of the 

The Bashkirs are a people said to be of Finnish origin, though 
they speak a language of Tartar or Turkish stock. They live 
chiefly in the Government of Orenburg, on both sides of the Ura 
mountains, but there is a large number of them in the Govern- 
ment of Samaxa. In all the race amounts to perhaps 500,000 
souls. Formerly devoting themselves to rapine and a nomadic 
life, they were first made useful as a frontier army similar to the 
Cossacks, have gradually taken up agriculture, and have become 
quiet peaceable citizens. Their chief town is Ufa, which is 
now the centre of the Government of the same name. 

B 2 


The road we were following not being a direct post-road, we 
had at every station great difficulty in obtaining horses, but no- 
where so much as here. Driving into a dirty court, full of 
slush and melted snow, we descended two or three steps, and, 
bending our heads, went through x small door into the single 
room which constituted the haoitation of the Bashkir horse- 
owner. The inside of the house was scrupulously clean, with 
an immense stove on one side, half of the room being divided 
off by print curtains. Along the wall was a broad divan, covered 
for our benefit with a gay felt rug, and in the corner next the 
door were a calf and a young colt, which had been brought in 
lor protection against the extreme cold outside. A young 
woman and a number of small children clustered about the low 
stove built of rude bricks, and on one end of the divan lay a 
worn-out-looking woman, with a diminutive infant, apparently 
born only some hours before. The proprietor of the house, a very 
neat-looking Bashkir, wearing a long caftan, and with a small 
black skull-cap on his shaven head, was amiable enough, and 
evidently disposed to further our journey. He explained that 
the regular yamstchiks or drivers had all gone away with their 
horses, and sent out into the village to see whether others could 
not be had. Soon a large number of men appeared, old men 
with grizzly beards, and awkward thick-lipped youths ; one of 
them especially was, in his way, quite a dandy. The broad collar 
of his shirt was whiter and finer than the rest, and his dark blue 
cloth caftan was girt with an ornamented silver belt. He felt 
his position, and was indisposed to let us have horses for any- 
thing except a most extortionate price, and the rest followed 
his example ; so that we found it impossible to make any bar 
gain, and consequently sent them all away. Others then came 
in, and after a prolonged discussion, our host, whose features 
were always lighted with a grave smile, kindly interpreting for 
us, we were at last obliged to take two pairs of bad horses for 
seven rubles, to go a distance of sixteen miles. The regular 
postal charge is one and a half kopeks a verst for each horse, 
which would be only about one and a half or two rubles for 
the same distance. When we agreed to take the horses one of 
the old men glibly recited the first chapter of the Koran, all 
stroked their beards, and the bargain was made. But we were 
obliged even then to pay down part of the money before we 


could start, and had a long delay in getting the horses to. We 
whiled away the time by observing the housekeeping of the 
Bashkir women, who were mending the fire, and boiling some 
compound in a huge pot, and at intervals sweeping the floor to 
clear off any particles of snow or dirt. The children gradually 
grew less shy and showed us what proficiency they had made in 
reading a Tartar book. 

At the next station, Kutchambai, also a Bashkir village, we 
had the same trouble, it being impossible of course to get the 
horses for any less than we had paid at the previous station, 
each driver telling the next what we had already given, so that 
we found the prices rising as we went on. Miles and miles we 
went on over low hills all white with snow, and nothing visible 
but the track before and behind us, when it suddenly became 
intensely cold, and there was eveiy sign of a violent storm. At 
the Kussian station of Tobaeva, which we reached late in the 
evening, we were able to obtain horses, and desired to go on at 
once, but we were urged to wait, so as not to be caught in the 
bur an, or whirlwind of snow, which is very common on this 
waste plain. Many stories were told us of persons who had been 
lost, and especially of one young man from the nearest village, 
who had set out in a snow-storm the week before, and had not 
since been heard of. 

The chief room at the station was occupied by a justice of 
the peace, who was engaged during the whole evening in settling 
disputes between various peasants who came in — chiefly cases 
about boundaries or rents. We at last decided to stay the 
night, spread our sheepskin coats on the floor, and went to 
sleep ; but at one o'clock we were awakened with the news that 
it was now fine weather, and that the moon and stars were out, 
and with the advice to go on, as another sledge was coming, and 
if we did not take the horses at once we would not be able to get 
them later. We therefore quickly drank a glass of hot tea, and 
started off at two o'clock, crossing the last ridge that separated 
us from the valley of the Ural, and making the twenty-six miles 
to the next station by half-past six o'clock in the morning. Here 
we were delighted to come upon a neat house in a Cossack vil- 
lage, where a couple of fine old Cossacks immediately bestirred 
themselves to get us our horses and to give us some breakfast. 
They were venerable-looking old fellows, dressed in long wadded 


Bukharan dressing-gowns, wliich they tucked into a most 
enormously wide pair of leather trowsers before starting off in 
the snow. When our tea was ready we found some excellent 
white bread and fresh cream, a luxury we had not known for a 
long time. The horses turned out to be good, and we were 
quickly in sight of the green domes which mark the city of 
Uralsk. We had no desire to delay here, but we wished at 
least to get a good dinner, and to procure the road-paper to 
Orenburg. It was, however, Sunday, which made difficulties. 
The wretched rooms at which we stopped were kept by a man, 
who did not conceive it possible to give us any meat during the 
Lenten fast, and we had great difficulty in getting anything to 
eat, as nothing seemed to be in the house. Of course the public 
offices were not open, and everybody told me it would be im- 
possible to get farther before the next night. But after writing 
a note to the Governor and telling him of our haste, we suc- 
ceeded in getting an order to the head police-master to give 
us a certificate, with which I went to the Treasurer of tht* 
district, and, luckily rinding him at home, by great persuasion 
induced him to sign a road-paper, which procured us the desired 
horses ; this, however, took from noon until nine o'clock at 

I was much disappointed at the appearance of Uralsk, which 
I had imagined to be a neat and thriving town ; neat, because 
it is inhabited by Cossacks, and thriving, because it is their 
capital. It may be that in ordinary times. these epithets would 
be applicable, but a spring thaw is apt to make any country 
town look utterly wretched. Here the snow was nearly gone, and 
on this warm sunny day the mud in the streets was so deep that 
it was even dangerous to walk across them in goloshes, which 
might have been left behind. So far as we were able to move 
about it seemed as though there was hardly a respectable-looking 
building in the town ; all were dirty and dilapidated. There 
was a little boulevard, which perhaps in early summer would 
be very pretty, with a pavilion at one end, and a statue or 
monument erected to the memory of the late Cesarevitch, but 
so completely veiled with a large black cloth, that it was im- 
possible to tell what it was. The streets were full of Kirghiz, 
most of them mounted on camels, which at once gave the town 
an Oriental aspect, and altogether it seemed far more Kirghiz 


than Cossack. The cause of this is to be found in the new regula- 
tions for the government of the Kirghiz Steppe, issued in 
1869, which placed it under the same Grovernment as the Ural 
Cossacks, with the head-quarters at Uralsk ; before that a 
Kirghiz was rarely seen on the Russian side of the river. About 
five o'clock, as I was returning from the Treasury, I saw about 
the ' White ' Church a large crowd of young Cossacks, and great 
animation in the streets and on the neighbouring bazaar. 
This turned out to be a sort of labour market. The men serving 
at the different frontier stations come to hire volunteers for the 
various expeditions to take place during the summer ; while 
others who have nothing to do, or who have lost their all in 
some unlucky fishing venture, come to seek employment. Two 
or three, who had somehow learned that I was going to 
Tashkent, were anxious to enter my service. One had been in 
Central Asia before, and the others had been led by the stories 
they had been told of the easy life and the profit which was 
to be gained there. All such offers I refused, as I expected to 
take servants at Orenburg who knew the language, and could 
interpret ; but afterwards I regretted that I had not taken one 
of these men, who would, I think, from what I learned of 
Cossack character, have been far more faithful and adroit. I 
could not help noticing, on the whole road from Saratof to 
Uralsk, the interest which was felt in Central Asia by every- 
one. Many had relatives or townsmen there, and all were 
influenced by the idea that Tashkent was a place where fortunes 
were to be made, and where life was adventurous and pleasant. 
It is strange what an erroneous notion prevails in the West 
with regard to the Cossacks. They are thought to be an un- 
civilised, savage race, given to nothing but plunder and acts of 
barbarity. These opinions, arising from old legends, were 
probably strengthened during the partisan war of 1812, when 
the Cossacks played such an important part as light cavalry in 
the West, and when the skirmishers of the Eussian army excited 
everywhere an irrational terror, and passed into tradition as 
bugbears and scarecrows, occupying much the same position as 
the Prussian Uhlan will for some time hold in France. Id 
reality the Cossacks are mild, amiable, and hospitable. They 
are the pioneers of Russian civilisation. If anything has to be 
done, and brave manly fellows are required to do it, the Cossacks 


are employed. When a country is to be colonised the Cossacks 
guard it, and themselves take part in the work of settlement. 
Though given perhaps to occasional raids, when next to some 
Kirghiz or uncivilized tribe, they are in the main peaceful and 
orderly citizens, brave, industrious, and enduring. The women 
are hard workers and good housekeepers, and during my whole 
journey in Asia I was only too delighted when I came to a post- 
station kept by a married Cossack, for there I was sure to find 
everything clean and neat, with eggs and milk at least, and 
possibly something more substantial to eat. 

The name ' Cossack,' or ' Kazak,' as the Eussians spell it, is 
Eastern, and is not properly the name of a people, but a word 
originally belonging to the Tartar-Turkish language, meaning a 
vagabond, and then a partisan or guerilla. The people living 
under the shadow of the Caucasus first came into history with the 
name of Kazaks, and subsequently the bands who settled on the 
river Don, forming an outlying frontier colony of the Kussians, 
took the same name, constantly using Tcherkess, the real name 
for the inhabitants of Circassia, as synonymous with it. Though 
the name is Tartar, the Cossacks themselves are chiefly a 
Eussian race. Deserters, outlaws, peasants flying from the 
tyranny of their masters, brave and adventurous spirits of every 
sort, who could not find room for themselves in Eussia, joined 
the tribes living on the Don, and made up the community 
which soon became known as the ' Cossacks of the Don.' 

With the Church troubles, many who held to the old faith, 
and opposed the new reforms introduced by the patriarch Nicon, 
and all who sought for independence of action or of thought, 
joined them. Offshoots of them settled also on the Dnieper. 
Though always calling themselves Eussians, the Cossacks insisted 
on maintaining their independence ; virtually being a state 
within a state. They often made war and pillaging excursions 
on their own account, and refused to deliver up their prisoners 
without ransom. Such proceedings forced the Eussian Tsars to 
send expeditions to punish them ; and in the latter part of the 
sixteenth century, the boldest of them finding things too hot for 
them at home, moved Eastward in search of greater freedom for 
adventure. The first results of this were the capture and 
colonisation of Siberia by the band of Yermak, and the expul- 
sion of the Tartars from the banks of the Yaik — now the Ural 


— followed by the formation of the Yaik or Ural Cossacks. 
Here, on the Ural, they were so far removed from the Moscow 
Government that it was long before any settled regulations 
could be made for their administration and entire subjection. 
Among their other expeditions some predatory attacks on the 
Persian territory led to complaints, and the Tsar Alexis, by 
promise of pardon, prevailed on the Ataman to come with 
some of his companions to Moscow, and they were sent in 1655 
against Poland and Eiga. This was the first service of the 
Cossacks in the Eussian army. In 1735 Orenburg was founded, 
the lines of the Ilek and Yaik established, and Eussian posts 
and authorities introduced there. The Cossacks, feeling that 
these acts were in some way an invasion of their privileges, 
complained against the exactions of the Eussian Governors, 
and were constantly in commotion. 

The discontent finally culminated, just one hundred years 
ago, in the rebellion of Pugatcheff, who gave himself out as 
the Emperor Peter ITL, dead shortly before. The rebellion 
soon took tremendous proportions ; all the country of the Volga 
was pillaged, and Moscow even was threatened, when finally, in 
1775, the rebels were beaten, and Pugatcheff was executed. The 
name of the river and province was changed from Yaik to Ural 
(a thoroughly Asiatic punishment), and since that time the Cos- 
sacks have bCT^ ~*?aceful and willing subjects, when no attack has 
been made oil tneir privileges, except that it has been found 
almost impossible to restrain them from making pillaging forays 
into the dominions of the Kirghiz on the other side of the river. 

The male Cossacks from eighteen to twenty are in the mili- 
tary service within the district; then, after a year of rest, they are 
liable to service outside the boundaries of their district for nomi- 
nally fifteen years, though they are always sent home again long 
before the expiration of that period. Every Cossack is supposed 
to be in the army, though exceptions are made in favour of a 
father who has three sons in the service, or in case of one out of 
four brothers. In time of war all can be called upon. The 
actual number of the Ural Cossacks in service is estimated at 
over 10,000, though really not more than 3,000 actually serve 
at one time. It has long been the practice of the richer Cos- 
sacks to hire tlw poorer to take their places in the ranks, three 
hundred rul>K*fa in>ii)g paid for two years' service in Turkistan- 


The abolition c. f this custom by the new military law ^ ar, the 
cause of the disorders An September, 1874. 

The Cossacks form an almost ideal community. The land 
belongs to the whole army collectively, and each member has 
the right to till the ground, to cut hay, or to pasture his cattle 
where he pleases, provided, of course, he does not infringe on the 
rights of others, as settled by custom. Even the fishery in the 
Ural and in the sea is common property. The days of fishing 
are regulated ; and though all are ready, none dare to cast a net 
or throw a harpoon before the cannon signal has been given by 
the Ataman, under penalty of confiscation of all his fishing im- 
plements. The ' golden bottom ' of the Ural was once the main 
source of wealth to the Cossacks ; but owing to the rapid and 
careless extermination of the forests above Orenburg, the river 
is drying up, and filling with shoals, and the fish seem seekiug 
some other locality. Yet even now the produce of caviare, 
isinglass, salted sturgeons, and beluga is very great. By this 
commercial system the spread of wealth is much more even and 
regular than elsewhere, and there are no rich and no poor, or at 
least only in a comparative sense, for a poor man here is one 
who has nothing more than what is indispensable, i.e. his house, 
horse, and cattle. This system, however, in a country so 
limited in its capacities as the Ural region, will, with all its 
merits, be found inadequate to a rapidly growing population. 

The Cossacks are almost entirely dissenters, chiefly ' old be- 
lievers,' though apparently without the bigotry and religious 
hatred which characterize Russian dissent in general. In 1862, 
out of a population of over 70,000, there were only sixty-two who 
belonged to the orthodox Russian Church, chiefly Russian officials 
in the towns ; and it is worthy of note that in 1859, the last year 
for which statistics have been published, thirty-eight out of 
eighty crimes were committed by orthodox, and only ten by dis- 
senters, the remainder being by Jews, Mohammedans &c. The 
whole orthodox population at this time was eighty-nine. 1 

We had some difficulty in getting started in the evening, as 
when the horses finally arrived the drivers were ill-natured, and 
pretended that the loaded sledges were far too heavy for the 

1 ' The Army of the Ural Cossacks.' Collection of statistics published by th» 
Staff. St. Petersburg, 1866. P. 305-333. 


horses. All along the road we had great trouble in procuring 
horses, as it had been understood that the Governor-General ol 
Orenburg was coming that way. Fortunately I had heard at the 
station that his journey had been postponed for two or three 
days, and sometimes persuaded the station-masters that this 
was actually the case. They wished to reserve all the horses 
for him, and we had on some occasions to take private horses 
belonging to the Cossacks, paying, of course, double price for 
them. That night and the next were intensely cold, and with 
the cold and the bright sun of the day our faces grew red and 
swollen, and the skin began to peel off in blotches. The reflec- 
tion from the snow was so blinding that we were obliged to put 
on the dark spectacles set in wire-gauze which we had brought 
as a protection against the dust of the desert. The road 
followed the bank of the Ural, though, as the river was frozen 
and covered with snow, it was often not specially noticeable, 
and our travelling was without variety, except an occasional 
overturn of our sledge on account of the inequalities of the 
road, for where there was a little side-hill or hollow the sledge 
would invariably slide down into it and pull up with a jerk, 
which would throw us both out. As we approached Orenburg 
the river-bottom began to be covered with thin woods. At the 
last station we were heartily glad to find that, owing to the snow 
being still deep, we were able to cut off a distance of some 
twenty miles and proceed along the river bank through what 
in early summer must be a lovely country ; and at last, on 
Tuesday morning about noon, we reached a broad plateau, on 
the farther side of which we saw the spires and buildings of 

We brought up at the Hotel d'Orenburg, commonly known 
as ' Antons,' situated in the chief street, where we were able to 
procure two decent rooms, and had at last baths and comfort- 
able beds. Our appearance on arrival was anything rather 
than calculated to inspire the host with confidence in us. It 
had been, I think, the coldest weather in which I was ever out, 
and we suffered much, although we were very warmly dressed. 
I had a long sheepskin coat, such as is worn by the peasants, 
and my ordinary fur-lined paletot, with a fur collar, thrown 
over my shoulders besides, for the sheepskin coat was without a 
collar, and the wind came 'down my neck. Besides this there 


was a red tippet about my throat, and a brown bashlyk of 
soldier's cloth tied over my head, with its tall peak sticking up. 
With beards of a week's growth, and red and scaly faces, we 
were certainly not attractive objects. 

Orenburg contains just that mixture of European and 
Oriental that one might expect to find at the threshold of 
Central Asia. The wide streets crossing one another at right 
angles, the well-built wooden and plastered houses, the shops, 
the churches, the boulevard and public square, the immense 
Government buildings used for barracks, storehouses, and 
schools, give the place a thoroughly Eussian air ; while, on the 
other hand, the caravanserai, with its beautiful mosque and 
minaret of white stucco ; the Tartar mosque, the camels, in cara- 
vans, single, or harnessed to wagons ; the crowds of Tartars, the 
Kirghiz on horseback, in their dirty rags, with rude caps ; the 
bazaar, with the Bukharan, Khivan, and Tashkent merchants, in 
long robes striped with many colours, and with turbans on their 
heads, showed that the inhabitants of the place were thoroughly 
Asiatic. In reality only about 5,000 of 35,000 inhabitants are 
Tartars and Asiatics ; but they are enough to give an Eastern 
tone to the place. There is a very pleasant society among the 
officials, and nearly all the Russians are either officials or mer- 
chants. I found more than a dozen persons who spoke English 
very well, as well as French and German ; and there is a theatre 
and musical society. The merchants in general live very meanly, 
but there are some of them worth several millions, and on the 
occasion of a grand dinner or fete they show much luxury. 

Orenburg seemed to me much improved in the five years that 
had ehipsed since my last visit ; very many new and large build- 
ings had been constructed, such as the military gymnasium 
(high school), the pro-gymnasium, and the city gymnasium, with 
one or two hotels, and there seemed much more life and move- 
ment in the city. As the centre of the Administration of the 
large province of Orenburg, of the Orenburg Cossacks, and of 
the Kirghiz of the Turgai district, as well as the military head- 
quarters, it brings together no inconsiderable number of officials. 
Orenburg is one of the chief entrepots of the trade carried 
on between Tashkent and Central Asia in general and Kussia, 
though much passes through Troitsk, another city of the same 
province, coming chiefly by way of Southern Siberia, though 



the main trade of both places is with the Kirghiz Steppe. On 
the completion of the railway which is now being constructed 
between Samara and Orenburg the business of Orenburg will 
undoubtedly increase. It needs but greater facilities for trans- 
port to permit the introduction of more capital and the better 
working of the numerous mines which the Ural mountains 
contain. The Central Asiatic caravans arrive and depart from 
what is called the Myenovoi Dvor, or Exchange Court, situated 
on the other side of the river. 


We were detained in Orenburg from Tuesday until Saturday, 
as there were many little things to be doue preparatory to a 
journey over the Steppe, where provisions could not be had. I 
renewed my acquaintance with my former friends, and received 
the greatest politeness and most substantial assistance from all 
of them. All treated me with the greatest kindness, and did 
everything possible to further my plans. The shops in Orenburg 
are much better than I had expected, and I was enabled to pur- 


chase many little things which I had forgotten or neglected. We 
had to lay in not only provisions of all kinds — taking of course 
about three times as much as was really necessary for us, owing 
to the stories of detention and utter nakedness of the land — but 
had besides to procure a tarantass — a large covered travelling 
carriage, without springs, but balanced on long poles which serve 
the purpose. There are no seats, but when we had spread 
mattresses and pillows we could lie comfortably at night and 
travel with great ease. It is the only possible vehicle that 
is adapted to stand Eussian roads, and is certainly very com- 
fortable and convenient. We found, however, that this was 
too small to carry some of the heavy luggage we had brought 
with us, for we were provided with a considerable amount of 
ammunition and some few firearms, in case of any little ex- 
pedition we might wish to make in a hostile country or of the 
possibility of an attack on the road. We therefore procured a 
small cheap country sledge, which we resolved to take as far as 
we could, and then trust to luck. The roads at this time were 
covered with snow, though it was thawing in Orenburg, and we 
were told that we could with difficulty get as far as Orsk, where 
we should probably change to wheels. We had had the wheels 
taken off the tarantass and the vehicle lashed on a sledge. 

It was necessary also to make arrangements about money, 
for we were warned to take as little as possible, as we should in 
all probability be robbed on the road by bands of Kirghiz, or 
possibly of Turkomans ; and consequently, after procuring a large 
quantity of small silver and several bags full of copper pieces 
to pay away at the post-stations, and taking enough notes to 
last us for the road, we deposited the rest in one of the banks at 
Orenburg. This was a great piece of folly on our part, as, 
there being no bank at Tashkent, I found it rather difficult to 
obtain money, and only did so through the kindness of a 
merchant who had a house at Orenburg. 

The first thing we did here was to look about for servants, 
and with the kind assistance of my friend Professor Bektchurin, 
a Tartar gentleman, who is professor of Arabic and the Eastern 
languages in the military gymnasium, we got two Tartars, one 
an old fellow named Ak-Mametef, who had been twice in 
Tashkent and Central Asia, and spoke Persian as well as Turki 
and Kirghiz, and the other a young fellow named Akhmet, who 


spoke Kirghiz perfectly, having been much in the Steppe. Un- 
fortunately, Ak-Mametef turned out to be an utter rascal, and 
MaoGahan especially had great difficulty with him. Akhmet 
would have been a good enough fellow, as he was perfectly 
docile and amenable, had it not been for his utter stupidity, 
and I was subsequently obliged to discharge him. 

In Orenburg the talk was chiefly about the Khivan expedi- 
tion, the Orenburg detachment having started some weeks 
before. News had been received that it had safely arrived 
at the fort on the Emba. The men had been well clad in sheep- 
skin coats, and at every station kibitkas had been erected, and 
plenty of tea and vodka provided to protect them against th#* 

The army had been conveyed by horses which had been 
stationed there by the Kirghiz, at the command of the 
authorities, in sledges, and though the weather had been very 
cold there had been no suffering and no illness. The provision- 
train, however, met with a heavy storm before reaching the 
Emba fort, and had greatly suffered ; so that apprehensions were 
felt lest all might not be ready for the forward advance of the 
detachment. My friends regretted that I had not come a month 
sooner, in order that I might have accompanied the expedition, 
evidently knowing nothing of the restrictions which had been 
placed at St. Petersburg on free travelling in that direction ; and 
it was suggested to us that when we reached Kazala we might 
still have an opportunity to go, either by catching up with the 
detachment or by taking a passage on one of the steamers now 
plying on the Aral Sea. 

We were two whole days going the 177 miles to Orsk, on 
account of the unsettled state of the roads and the bad condi- 
tion of the horses. The stations were nearly all large villages, 
Stanitzi of Orenburg Cossacks, and at them we had little diffi- 
culty. At one, however, which we reached at seven in the 
evening, we were told that it would be impossible to travel at 
night in the soft state of the ground, and were besought to wait 
till morning. But about midnight we became impatient, and 
insisted on being off, taking some extra horses to get better over 
the difficult road. To the tarantass we had eight horses, but 
they were hardly better than four, as they all pulled different, 
ways. Add to this oui driver took a short cut through a wooded 


vallev. where we got stuck several times among the stumps ; to 
that it took us six hours and a half to make the stage of seven- 
teen miles. 

The Orenburg Cossacks are much farther from the ideal 
than those of the Ural. They have never had the free life and 
the natural development of their neighbours, but have been 
colonized there to order, and their ranks rilled with retired 
soldiers and peasants. They have never had the same trouble 
to defend their frontier against raids, and lack the old military 
traditions. The conditions of their life, too, are in many re- 
spects very different, though far superior to those of the ordinary 
Kussian peasant. 

There are no fisheries here, and agriculture and cattle- 
raising are the main occupations. At every station we were 
offered the beautiful Orenburg shawls, both white and grey, knit 
by the Cossack women of the long fleece of a peculiar breed 
of goat kept here. Some of the more delicate ones require 
months and even years for their completion. 

As we neared Orsk we crossed with some difficulty, on ac- 
count of the melted snow, the Guberlinsky mountains, the 
southern portion of the Ural chain. They are very low, mere 
hills in fact, but they have all the characteristics of mountains, 
bare of trees, rocky and stony, with snowy patches, leaving the 
dark brown ridges bare. They are chiefly composed of gravel, 
but a curious strata of rock crops out at a high angle, and is 
visible in long straight lines for a great distance. When we 
reached the very summit of the hills, near the station which 
marks the boundary between Europe and Asia, we had a most 
wonderful view — on every hand a sea of dark brown peaks and 
ridges, with snow lying in the hollows and valleys, and showing 
better their contours. We looked far to the south beyond the 
Ural, and everywhere there were hills, which gradually grew 
smaller and smaller until they creep up again into the Mugojar 
mountains, on the northern coast of the Aral Sea. 

During the last stage we were very wretched, for experience 
had made us wary of following the advice of station-masters, 
who usually knew nothing of the road, and we had retained our 
sledges instead of changing them for wheels, though we were 
obliged to submit to having fifteen animals, four of them camels, 
harnessed to our two sledges. We stuck in the mud, and 

ORSK. 1 7 

01 imped and scraped over bare ground for hours, till at last, 
about six o'clock, we came on a plain, and saw in the distance 
the tort and group of houses which showed us what we liad 
looked forward to as the last stage of civilisation — it being the 
last telegraph station. We could endure no longer the slow 
motion of the vehicle, and got out to walk. But near as Orsk 
seemed, our sledges always appeared to be making a large 
circuit to the left, and it was a very long time before we crossed 
the frozen Ural and arrived at the station-house. 

With the experience of the last stage we were quite ready 
to be convinced, when the station-master assured us that beyond 
this there was no snow at all, and that we had better take to 
wheels. As we had no intention of delaying longer than was 
necessary we at once gave the order, and the sledge was taken 
off, and the wheels properly greased and put on. For our 
luggage we had to look about for a wagon ; and finally, after 
many vain attempts, found one belonging to a merchant, who 
had the post contract for the route beyond Kazala, which he 
was desirous of sending on, and which he offered to us free of 
charge as far as we wished, if we would only leave it at one of 
the stations. Some little thing, however, was necessary to be 
done, which would take about half-an-hour, but it was im- 
possible to get it into the head of anyone that it could be done 
at once. They would not promise it to us earlier than the 
next morning. There was nothing then to do but to wait. We 
took a little walk through the town, which, though an old 
frontier town — the original site of Orenburg in 1735 — is very 
wretched ; a church or two, and one or two shops where every- 
thing is sold. The bazaar was utterly insignificant, which much 
surprised us, for Orsk is one of the chief centres of trade with the 
Kirghiz Steppe, and the amount of business transacted is very 
great. We went to the little dirty traktir bearing the name 
of Hotel de Berlin and ordered our dinner — such as could be 
obtained — to be sent to the post-house, despatched our last 
telegrams, and wrote our last letters. 

In the morning we discovered, when it was already too late, 
that we had been far too hasty the night before. The weather 
had changed, and it had turned most fearfully cold, so that we 
were obliged to wrap up warmly. More than this, we found 
afterwards that there was a perfectly good snow-road as far as 
vol. i. c 

i 8 TURK 1ST AN. 

Irghiz, two-thirds of the distance to Kazala ; but luckily foz us 
it was so cold, and the road so hard-Frozen, that we travelled 
for the most part as if over a macadamised road, so that wheels 
were equally serviceable with runners. Our vehicles were 
neither of them heavy ; but it is of no use to state the number 
of horses you want, or to have your luggage weighed, even 
should there be a possibility of doing so. The post-master will 
insist that more horses are required to draw such heavy loads, 
and there is no help but to submit. We took, therefore, the 
ten horses that were given us, and started off in the face of a 
fearful wind. We had, however, but reached the edge of the 
town, when we discovered that in the hurry of departure one of 
the axles had been put on wrongly, and that the forward move- 
ment was gradually unscrewing both of the front wheels. We 
fortunately saw this in time, and, with the assistance of the 
people living near by, unharnessed the horses, raised the 
tarantass, and changed the axle. With this began our experi- 
ence of the real difficulties of Asiatic travelling. At this time 
the post-track to Terekli was kept by Kirghiz contractors. 
They were careless and improvident, and laid in little or no 
forage for the horses during the winter, which had to live on 
what they could grub up under the snow or starve ; conse- 
quently they were nothing but skin and bone, and were often 
scarcely able to move. The stations along the road were 
wretched. Sometimes there was nothing but a Kirghiz kibitka, 
the felt walls of which were incapable of keeping out the 
cold, in spite of the fire of roots in the centre, or, as we found 
in one instance, of a red-hot iron stove, which a Kirghiz girl 
was constantly busily feeding with dried camel's dung — the 
usual fuel on the Steppe. Very often they were underground 
huts, down to which we stumbled through a long dark passage, 
which were at least cozy and warm, however dark and filthy. 
At present the road is rather better, for soon afterwards a new 
contract was made with some Eussians, and when I reached Orsk 
on my return from Tashkent, I heard that neat wooden 
stations had been put up along the line, and saw numbers of 
good sledges and tarantasses that were being sent out there. 
It was stated that the stations were all well furnished, and 
that it was even possible to obtain a meal there. How long 
this will continue it is of course impossible to say. 


Frequently we had great difficulty in getting horses. This 
Dappened even at the first station, Tokan. Now, Tokan is 
marked on the map, and we therefore supposed that there 
would be a village of some sort there. There was, however, 
nothing but the station, though about a mile off there was a little 
Kirghiz, winter aul, a little group of earthen hovels, sur- 
rounded by manure-heaps, the population of which changes 
from year to year. • After waiting for more than an hour, 
we were told by the Cossack in charge that the Kirghiz 
station-master had refused to give us horses, although all were 
in, and had sent off the driver with blows. The Cossack 
said that if he went there the old Kirghiz would certainly 
beat him, and suggested to us that it would be much better 
that we should go and beat him instead, offering to lead the 
way. There was nothing else to be done, and after a long walk 
through the snow we found the station-master, on whom our 
solicitations made not the slightest impression. Words being 
spent in vain, our Tartar servant began to belabor him with a 
rusty sword, quite against all rules and regulations, it is true, 
but we were too angry and too hurried to protest. The Kirghiz 
at once gave in, knelt down, and began to embrace our knees 
and beg for mercy, saying he would give us the horses immedi- 
ately. He had, however, only furnished two, when he leaped 
on the third and rushed off over the plain. We immediately sent 
in pursuit of him, and brought him back, when he said he was 
going to another village to fetch other horses. We refused to 
take this excuse, and insisted upon at once having them all, and 
after considerable delay they were furnished. It was, however, 
three hours from the time we reached the station before we 
were ready to start. Even then the horses were so bad that 
we were almost sorry we had any. 

Frequently there were no horses, and we had to have camels 
harnassed to our tarantass, which was very annoying, as they 
went so slowly, seldom more than two and a half miles an hour. 
Still they would take one through anything, mud, snow, sand, 
or water. It is no doubt very fine to speak of camels as ' ships 
of the desert,' and use other poetical expressions for them, but 
practically they are the most disagreeable, unpleasant animals 
that I have ever seen ; ungainly, unamiable, and disgusting in 
odour, they seem to be a sort of a cross between a cow and a 

c 2 


cassowary. Seen in the distance they make one think of a big 
over-grown ostrich, with their claw-feet and long necks, which 
they turn about so as always to observe everything which comes 
by, and stare at you with their big vacant eyes until you have 
passed fully out of sight. They seem to stand cold very well, 
although they will take cold and die if allowed to lie down in 
the snow. Hence during the winter on the Steppe their bodies 
are wrapped up in felt, which, when taken off in spring, carries 
most of the hair with it, and they then look entirely naked* 
If they get an idea into their heads that the road is long, or 
the weight too heavy, or that some part of the harness is 
wrong, they commence to howl. It is not exactly a groan nor 
a cry, but a very human, shrill and disagreeable sound ; and 
this they never cease — they keep it up from the time they start, 
until they reach their destination, varying their performances 
by occasionally kneeling down and refusing to advance ; or if 
they do go on, holding back in such a manner as to make pro- 
gress all the slower. In this case there is nothing to do but to 
unfasten the animal, turn him loose, and tie his legs together 
when he will begin to browse about, poking the snow away with 
his nose, and his driver will find him when he comes back. 
Camels are much too stupid to go home, as any other animal 
would, but they will continue to walk on in the same direction 
their faces are turned without ever thinking of master or stable 
or anything else. They are very revengeful, and in the spring 
season the male camels are very often dangerous. Many in- 
stances are known where they have bitten persons to death, and 
they then have to be carefully muzzled. There was one comfort 
to be got out of them notwithstanding — their walk was so 
quiet and sauntering, that in the morning, when it was not too 
cold, we could read with ease in the carriage, as there was not 
motion enough to jolt the book. In this way we got through 
' Middlemarch,' some books on Central Asia, and the whole of 
the Koran, to say nothing of spelling through Tartar exercises, 
and trying each other as we went along in pronunciation and 
phrases. It was not only the camels that gave us trouble — the 
harness was always in disorder ; a rope would perhaps be too 
long, or then too short, and occasionally some strap or string 
would break, so that half an hour rarely elapsed without the 
driver being obliged to dismount and arrange something. If 


nothing else happened he would drop his whip. The drivers 
were for the most part Kirghiz, stupid and stolid enough, but 
still good-natured, and cheerily singing to themselves as they 
went on, though usually, if the camels went very slowly, they 
were apt to go to sleep, and by this means our night journeys 
were rendered very tedious. 

Both in St. Petersburg and at Orenburg our friends had 
prophesied to us many imaginary dangers. I was even advised 
by Government officials in St. Petersburg to go by way of 
Siberia, as my safety could not be guaranteed if I went over the 
Steppe. At Orenburg we were urged to keep a sharp look-out, 
as we might at any time be attacked by bands of hostile 
Kirghiz, or possibly Turkomans, coming from Khiva, but we 
found the road perfectly safe, and speedily laid aside all thoughts 
of precaution, though we took care to have a pistol near us ; but 
our large revolvers were stowed away at the bottom of the 
tarantass, where they remained undisturbed until we reached 
Kazala. The road was so safe, in fact, that ladies were travel- 
ling on it alone, with only a servant ; even the war-time seemed 
to make no difference ; and as it turned out afterwards my com- 
panion went as far as Khalata, where he joined the Russian 
forces, without meeting the slightest danger of any kind except 
from fatigue and want of water. 

As far as Kazala our greatest hardship was cold. It being 
winter, water was plentiful, and we always had enough to eat. 
We had brought some hams and preserved meats and plenty of 
eggs, so that our usual diet consisted of fried slices of ham, 
which we prepared ourselves over a spirit-lamp, boiled or fried 
eggs, with sausages, jams, and potted meat. The bread we had 
found at Orsk was good, but it usually took some time to warm 
it to a temperature at which it could be either cut or eaten. 
We had plenty of good butter, and really lived very well. When 
we felt that the miseries of the day made us deserve a more 
luxurious feast, we had a stew of some tinned American oysters, 
if we could find any milk. Our servants looked rather askance 
at the ham and bacon, and apparently lived on nothing but 
bread and eggs, though I think Ak-Mametef had conquered his 
Mussulman prejudice sufficiently to have frequent swigs at 
the whisky-bottle. Of course the cooking took some little time, 
and the washing of the dishes and packing up much more ; so 


that we tried to get along with as few meals as possible, and at 
last satisfied ourselves with a good supper, provided we had tea 
and bread-and-butter two or three times a day ; but we found 
from long experience that in order even then to be kept from wait- 
ing we must command our horses as soon as we arrived at the 
station. It was fortunate that we had brought our own provi- 
sions, for we should have found nothing ; indeed, we had to help 
others with a little sugar or even bread. I well remember one 
underground hut, where a Cossack and his young wife asked 
us to spare them a loaf, as they had not tasted bread for a week, 
living only on porridge. 

Our eleven days' journey over the Steppe from Orsk to 
Kazala was not, of course, without its varieties and its little 
incidents. Of the Steppe, as far as Irghiz at least, we saw very 
little, for being covered with snow, it presented but one white 
plain, rising and falling gently in places, but never-ending. 
Still there were the lights and shadows, the dazzling glare of 
the sun, and the wan light of the night, the tracks of animals 
by the roadside, the caravan trails, which made us think we 
could never lose our way, if thrown alone by accident, and the 
occasional bivouacs of Eussian carters, with the picturesque 
groups around the camp-fires, to lend interest to the monotony. 
In general the whole of this Steppe has a declivity towards the 
Aral Sea, but there are at times slight elevations of ground — it 
would be wrong to call them hills— and there are the almost im- 
perceptible valleys in which are torrents or river courses. On our 
right we could see at times low ranges of hills, which sometimes, 
when near at hand, were white, and sometimes in the distance, 
without the snow, were of a tender blue. These were the con- 
tinuation of the chain of the Ural, which finally towards the 
Sea of Aral becomes what is called the Mugojar mountains. 
Between these, and the Gruberlinsky, on the north side of the 
Ural river, there is no specific name for the chain. At times 
we crossed or followed little streams, which as a general rule 
were still covered with ice and snow, and were therefore invisible. 
One of them, the little river Or, which flows into the Ural near 
Orsk, we had some difficulty in crossing. This was at the 
station of Istemes. We arrived at the river about one o'clock a.m. 
at a place where the ice, owing to the recent thaws, had be- 
come so thin that it was incapable of bearing us, and the 


drivers refused to go on ; although it was evident that some one 
not long before had crossed the stream ; neither were they 
willing to risk their lives — as they said — by endeavouring to 
cross the ice on foot to the scattered huts on the other side, in 
order to ask where a better crossing for our vehicles could be 
found. My companion and myself vainly wandered up and 
down the banks, misled in the bright starry night by faint 
tracks, hoping to find some place where the ice was more solid, 
but it always began to give way as soon as we put our feet on it. 
Finally, we persuaded one man to risk the crossing; and though 
he assured us the water was up to his neck, if not higher, he 
managed somehow to get safely across — the ice breaking 
through only once — and was told at the huts that our best way 
was to go straight on ; so at last we started, having taken the 
leaders from one tarantass and added them to the other, send- 
ing all the horses back again for the wagon we had left behind. 
To our surprise we found not only the ice so thin as not to 
incommode the horses, but the water only about a fioot and a 
half deep. 

The largest river that we passed was the Irghiz, which flows 
into Lake Tchalkar without continuing so far as the Aral Sea. 
These rivers of the Steppe are all much alike. In the spring 
there is a great deal of water, which overflows a considerable 
extent of country. In the summer there is often no water at all, 
or only a succession of small pools and lakes at distances of many 
miles. In spite of the wintry weather the Steppe, even from 
Orsk, abounded in birds of all kinds, especially in crows, black- 
birds, and eagles. When our horses and camels went very slowly, 
and the day was not too cold, we often amused ourselves by 
trying to get a shot at either the birds or the small fur-bearing 
animals which live on the Steppe. These latter from their 
dark colours, especially with the aid of the sharp eyes of our 
Kirghiz drivers, could be seen a long distance off ; but even wi' 7i 
the best of long-range rifles they always succeeded in getting to 
their holes before we came up. Near irghiz there were some 
small reedy ponds, which were covered with thousands of wild 
duck ; but unless we went gradually towards them in our 
vehicles, to which they paid no attention, it was impossible 
to get a shot at them, and even then it did us no good, as they 
always fell too far out in the water for us to reach them. One 


day we were unusually lucky, for MacGahan shot a couple oi 
bustards, large and very graceful white and grey birds, with 
long necks, which are frequent in that part of ^he Steppe. We 
cooked them when we arrived at the station, and found them 
excellent eating. 

There were two breaks in the monotonous journey — the 
forts of Karabutak and Irghiz, situated respectively at 140 and 
262 miles from Orsk. They were welcome reliefs to us ; and 
had it not been for the kindness of Colonel Strashny-Senukovitch, 
the Commandant of Karabutak, I know not how we should have 
got on. At the previous station we could only get two worn- 
out wretched horses and a small sledge, in which with great 
exertions we made the thirteen miles to the fort in five hours. 
We found the station to be a very small earth hut, quite 
cold, and apparently with no means of making a fire, and with 
no persons about. We therefore drove directly to the house of 
the Commandant of the fort, to whom I had a letter from 
General Kryzhanofsky, of Orenburg. It was quite dark at his 
little house, and we were afraid at first that he had gone to 
sleep ; but there was no help for it, and we had to run the risk 
of awakening him. At last he appeared, and received us both 
very kindly, had tea immediately prepared for us, and gave us 
some cold supper, which we were glad enough to get, as we had 
had nothing to eat since the morning. He at once sent a 
soldier with his own horses to the last station to bring on our 
vehicles and luggage, and kindly insisted on our passing the 
night with him, for which purpose he had his divans made up 
into beds, and we slept luxuriously until late the next morning. 
It was not until the afternoon that our servants appeared and 
told us that we could now go on, as six horses were also provided 
for us by the commandant. 

This fort, which is a very small one, was built in 1 848, to as- 
sist in keeping up the communication with the fort of Uralskoe, 
which had been raised in the Steppe some three years before. 
It is situated on a little eminence, at the foot of which runs a 
small stream of saltish water, which cannot be used for drinking 
purposes. There is no verdure or vegetation about the fort, 
and the Commandant has even found it impossible to make a 
garden The garrison numbered less than a hundred, which is 
quite sufficient, as now the Steppe is so peaceful there is really 


nothing to do except to show the Kirghiz that force can be 
used in case anything goes wrong. About the fort a few small 
clay houses have been built, but there are no merchants, and 
the doctor and one or two officers are the only company for the 
Commandant. I went through the fortification and into the 
barracks, where I found everything in excellent order. They 
had been baking bread that day — black bread, such as is so 
loved by the Russian peasantry and soldiers — and it really was 
excellent. I tasted the dinner, also excellent, which had just 
been brought on the table, consisting of boiled beef and 
cabbage-soup. There was no view from the heights except the 
wide snowy plain, but as it was too cold to enjoy even that we 
quickly returned to the house again. After an excellent break- 
fast, or really a dinner, the Commandant allowed us to depart, 
t hough he urged us much to stay another day. As we were 
leaving he gave the driver strict injunctions to take us on as 
quickly as possible. 

Irghiz, which before it was made into a district city was 
called Uralskoe, is somewhat larger perhaps than Karabutak. 
The fort is a wretched earthen construction, situated on the 
steep high bank of the little river Irghiz. The place is as dull 
as can be, and utterly unpicturesque, with rows of flat-roofed, 
one storied, mud houses, in which live the hangers-on of the 
fort and the traders with the Kirghiz. A few shops containing 
iron kettles, felt, cloths, and prints, and other articles for 
Kirghiz trade, and a broad muddy street, comprise the whole 
of the town. The Commandant, Colonel Ryedkin, received us 
very kindly, and gave us a paper addressed to all the station- 
masters, to facilitate our getting horses. 

We were lodged here in a dirty damp room, in what pur- 
ported to be a cook's shop, where we spent the most of the day 
in resting-, renewing our ammunition, and getting some fresh 
provisions. When we started, late in the afternoon, it was warm 
and sunny, and the snow was fast disappearing, so that the 
Steppe took for us a new appearance, though there was yet 
nothing green. The ground was in some places so soft that at 
last we were unlucky enough to get into a mud-hole and stick 
there, near some Kirghiz kibitkas. Both men and women 
assisted to pull us out, but for a long time their efforts were 
useless, as the horses would not pull together, and it was very 


difficult to make the Kirghiz driver understand that he must 
turn the vehicle in order to wrench the wheel out of the rut. 
The thaw had begun in earnest, and the approach to the desert 
began to be rilled up with deep sand, so that our progress be- 
came more difficult. In places there were small ravines filled 
with melted snow and water — aksai — which were very hard to 
pass. The Steppe became more and more desolate until we 
reached the station of Terekly, on the edge of the great desert 
of Kara-Kum, (black sand), where begins the province of 
Turkistan. This was formerly the great bugbear of the route ; 
but owing to the energy of the district prefect of Kazala and 
the efforts of the post-contractors, it has now become one of the 
easiest portions of the road. The stations themselves are all 
well-constructed buildings of unburnt bricks, neatly covered 
with white plaster, and have a large warm room, with a divan, 
so that if a traveller wishes to pass the night there he can 
sleep with comfort. The road was at that time very bad, being 
over deep snow, but the short distances between the stations 
and the better horses and camels made us travel much more 
quickly. One station, I remember, of eleven miles we made 
in an hour and a quarter. The Kara-Kum did not, however, 
conform to my preconceived notions of the desert, being by no 
means a desolate expanse of sand, as it was covered in every 
direction with small bushes and shrubs, and the ground fre- 
quently rose in little hillocks. There were no shifting sands, 
and the grey sand seemed hardly black enough to warrant the 
name. Some indeed believe that this desert is gradually dis- 
appearing. The young grass and the wild tulips were just 
venturing to come up, so that the waste had at times a greenish 
tinge, and the shrubs, though they had no leaves upon them, 
all had a certain colouring — grey, red, blue, and purple — in dull 
shades, so that where a hillock was thickly covered with them 
there was at a little distance quite a landscape effect. 

One day, near the station of Ak-julpas, for about three hours 
before sunset our road lay along the smooth beach of a bay of 
the Aral Sea. Far out to the west we looked over an expanse 
of shallow water rippled by the wind, and forming pools on the 
flat sandy beach. In the distance was a low dark blue pro- 
montory, and faint blue coast-lines, and to the east and south 
the desert rising and falling in low hillocks, covered with low 



leafless shrubs, the coloured stems of which gave an aspect of 
purple, rose, and yellow, mingling with the yellow- urown of the 
sand. But the charm lay in the sky, light blue with fleecy 
clouds, and a sun which lighted up the clear, very clear, 
shallow pools of water and shore and sea with silver and pearly 
hues. White gulls soared and dipped into the bay, hovering 
even over our heads ; while farther away the water was covered 
with flocks of ducks and other water-fowl, but they were too 
wary to allow us to approach them. It was the same here as 
elsewhere on the road : as long as we remained in the tarantass 
the birds would be quite indifferent to us, and sit still as we 
passed them, but the moment they saw a person on foot they 
were astonished at the novelty of the sight, and immediately 
made off. 

The water looked so clear and pure that I scooped up a cup 
of it and drank it. In taste it was slightly brackish, but not 
strongly saline. 1 The troops of the Orenburg detachment on 
their way to Khiva used it for two days, without disagreeable 
results, though with rapidly increasing disgust. 

The appearance of this shallow bay of Sary-Tchaganak is an 
example of the whole of this vast inland sea, a veritable waste of 

1 The first analysis of the water of the Aral Sea was made by Mr. Teich, 
director of the Tashkent laboratory, on water collected at Ak-Julpas, on August 
1, 1871. A second analysis was made by Professor Schmidt, of Dorpat, on 
water collected by Dr. Grimm in 1873. The results, as given in the 'Bulletin of 
the Imperial Russian Geographical Society,' 1873, No. 3, p. 95, and the 'Russische 
Revue,' No. 5, 1874, p. 468, are, in 1,000 parts of water, as follows:— 
Professor Schmidt, 1873. 

Chloride of rubidium, Kb. CI. . 

Chloride of potassium, KC1 . 

Chloride of sodium, NaCl 

Chloride of magnesium, MgCl 2 . 

Bromide of magnesium, MgB 2 

Sulphate of lime, CaSo, 

Phosphate of lime, CaP g O a . 

Sulphate of magnesia, MgSo 4 

Bicarbonate of magnesia, MgC 2 0, 

Two later analyses by Pratz give the percentage of foreign substances in 1,000 
parts of water as 12-359 and 12*567 respectively (' Bull. Imp. Rubs. Geog. Soc, 
1874, No. 5, p. 194). This shows that the water of the Aral Sea is less salt than 
that of the Caspian or of the ocean. 

Mr. Teich, 1871 

. 00030 


. 0-1115 


. 6-2356 


. 00003 


. 00033 


. 1-5562 


. 00016 


. 2-7973 


» 0-1942 




D 5 C = 1-00914 

= 10106 


waters, 270 miles long by 1G0 broad. The surroundings are 
utterly desolate and uninhabited — everywhere sandy hills and 
stretches of desert. Except birds there are very few signs of 
life. The fauna of the sea is poor in forms, the fish being all 
of the species found in the rivers emptying into it, while the 
mollusks are in part fresh-water forms, and in part a remnant 
of the inhabitants of the old Aral-Caspian basin. The sea itself 
is shallow, it being in no place deeper than 245 feet, and that 
only on the western rocky shore, while in the middle its depth 
is only about 100 feet. On the east and south one can walk 
for miles through the sh allow water, and during the time of 
strong winds the bed is for a long distance almost dry. Owing 
to the absence of good harbours, and the difficulties of getting 
into and out of the mouths of the Syr-Darya and Oxus, the sea 
is almost unnavigable. If we may j udge from tradition and the 
reports of previous travellers, it seems to be gradually drying 
up. There are evidences on nearly all sides that it once occupied 
a far greater extent, and the Khivan expedition found that the 
\ibugir Lake, which was formerly connected with its southern 
jnd, is now become a dry bed. The level of the Aral sea, 
according to the measurements of the exploring expedition of 
1874 under Colonel Thilo, is about 165 feet above the level of 
the ocean, and 250 feet above that of the Caspian Sea. 1 

At last the Kara-Kum was passed, and we arrived at the 
station of Yuniisk, some sixteen miles from Kazala, where we 
were obliged to pass the night, as it was too dark to go on, the 
road being in parts much flooded, and there being nothing but 
camels to take us. Starting early in the morning with horses, 
we went on, and soon came in sight of the town and the tall masts 
of vessels, which showed that at least we had reached the river. 
Many of these masts as we had supposed them to be on our 
nearer approach turned out to be well-sweeps. We had to go 
by a very round-about road through the Steppe, which was com- 
pletely cut up with small canals, as the Kirghiz sometimes 
irrigate and cultivate this part of the country ; and when we had 
nearly reached the town we found in our way a large and deep 
canal, which had much overflowed, and looked somewhat dan- 

1 The observations of Zagoskin, Anjou, and Duhamel in 1826 gave the level of 
the Aral Sea as 117*6 feet above the Caspian, "while those of Strove in 1858 fixed 

it at 132 feet. 



gerous to cross, as the water was rushing swiftly by. Having 
got safely almost to the deepest part, we stuck there, and for 
nearly an hour our efforts to move were entirely useless, the 
wheels sinking deeper into the mud every moment. We piled 
our pistols, guns, and hand-bags in the back of the carriage, as 
the water nearly reached up to the floor, and began to think 
that we should have to leave them there for the present and 
ride in on the horses. At last, after great exertion, we had other 
horses brought to us from the station, and succeeded in drag- 
ging the vehicles out one after the other, after which we drove 
at once to the Hotel d'Europe, where we had two or three bare 
but tolerably clean rooms, a luxury we had not calculated upon. 


All through the Kara-Kum we met numbers of Kirghiz 
families, who were going from their winter to their summer 
quarters, seeking pasturage for their cattle and flocks in the 
Steppe south of Orenburg — long caravans of horses and camels 
laden with piles of felt, tent-frames, and household utensils, on 
top of which sat a woman, perhaps with an infant in a cradle 
before her. Sometimes we caught them as they were setting 
up their kibitkas or arranging the fences of reed-mats to protect 
their flocks from the prowling wolves. Some of them spend 


the winter in the Kara-Kum itself, but the most of them pas& 
south of the Syr Darya, near the bounds of Khiva. 

These nomads who inhabit the western Steppe are not the 
same people as the true Kirghiz or Buruts who live about the 
lake Issyk-Kul and in the mountain ranges of Khokand, and 
are called by the Eussians Kara-Kirghiz (Black Kirghiz), and 
also Dikokamenny, or wild mountain Kirghiz. They do not 
call themselves Kirghiz, which is a name given them by the 
Eussians, but are known only as Kazakh the same as the Eussian 
Cossack. In order to distinguish this from the Eussian word 
the Eussians are in the habit of calling the race Kirghiz Kaisak, 
an entirely erroneous and meaningless name. The name Kazak, 
as used in Central Asia, means simply a vagabond or wanderer, 
and its application is evident. It is convenient, however, to 
follow usage and continue to speak of them as Kirghiz. 

The Kirghiz speak a language which is one of the purest dia- 
lects of Tartar, 1 though as a race they contain many foreign ele- 
ments. They originated from several Turkish tribes and families, 
which in the second half of the fifteenth century followed 
Sultans Grirei and Jani Bek in their flight from the tyranny 
of their rulers to the neighbourhood of Lake Balkash. They 
were soon joined by others, and rapidly became a flourishing 
community, known by their neighbours as Kazaks. The kernel 
of the race is evidently Turkish, and many of the tribes and 
families have the same names as Uzbek tribes in Khokand and 
Bukhara. Graining more and more strength and importance, 
they soon numbered a million of men, with over 300,000 warriors, 
and in 1598 their Khan,Tevvekel, conquered the cities and pro- 
vinces of Tashkent and Turkistan, which were the seat of the 
Kirghiz dynasty till 1723. It was in this flourishing period of 
their sway that the Kirghiz became divided into three parts, 
the provinces of Tashkent and Turkistan formiDg the Middle 
Horde, the Great Horde going to the east, and the Lesser 
Horde to the west and north. 2 

1 The Kirghiz language differs from Tartai* in the interchange of certain letters. 
j for y % b for p, zh for j, sh for tch, t for d, p for /, d for I, &c. Few Persian or 
Arabic words are used, and there are many words peculiar to this dialect only, as 
it has not passed the growing stage. 

2 The word Horde, Eussian orda, comes from the Turki ordu, a camp, seen 
now in urda, citadel, which is the accepted term in Tashkent, Khokand, and the 
neighbouring places. Orda is now commonly used by the Russian soldiers and 


In the beginning of the eighteenth century the Kirghiz, 
through intestine disputes, found themselves in a very bad posi- 
tion — attacked on the south-west by the Kalmuks, on the 
north by the Siberian Cossacks, and on the east by the ruler of 
Jungaria ; and, under the leadership of Abul-Khair Khan, they 
asked Peter the Great to receive them under Eussian protection. 
This request was at that time refused, on account of the want of 
unanimity among the tribes. 

In 1723 the Khan of Jungaria took the city of Turkistan, 
when, rather than submit to him, the Middle and Lesser Hordes 
made a despairing movement westwards, drove out the Bashkirs, 
and occupied all the Steppe between the Aral Sea, the Caspian, 
and the river Ural, and thus became the immediate neighbours 
of the Eussian s. It is with this, the Lesser Horde, that the 
Eussians have had the chief trouble. Abul-Khair, the Khan of 
the Lesser Horde at this time, was a remarkable man — enthu- 
siastic and able, but cunning and false, and therefore unable 
to maintain long his influence or carry out his plans. Besides 
being Khan of the Lesser Horde he was also chosen Khan of 
the Greater Horde, but was subsequently deposed. He was 
also for a short time Khan in Turkistan, and reigned in Khiva 
until the report of the approach of Nadir Shah drove him away. 
In one of his moments of difficulty, hard-pressed by his rivals, 
he, with a small number of his followers, offered to become 
Eussian vassals.- This was in 1730, but his proposition to the 
Eussians was repudiated by the most of the Kirghiz, and it was 
only after much difficulty that they were brought to recognise 
him again as Khan, and that finally in 1734 an agreement was 
made by which Abul-Khair bound himself to keep the Eussian 
boundaries intact and to protect the Eussian trading caravans ; 
and the Eussians in return agreed to affirm the dignity of Khan 
to his descendants. This agreement, combined with the igno- 
rance of the Eussians of the real feelings and wishes of the 
Kirghiz, was probably the cause of all the troubles of the Steppe. 
By it the principle of the free election of the Khans was over- 
thrown ; and the descendants of Abul-Khair, being neither 
personally popular among their countrymen, nor being of the 

Cossacks in a very amusing manner as a contemptuous term fur an Asiatic. The 
Great, Middle, and Lesser Hordes are called in Kirghiz ULu-jm, Uria-ju? s and 


oldest tribe or family, would never have been voluntarily chosen. 
But the Eussian generals were blind, and continued for nearly a 
hundred years the mistaken policy of maintaining titular Khans, 
who often possessed not a shadow of influence or authority 
among their people, and lived chiefly in the Eussian forts. 
Though the Kirghiz were now accounted Eussian subjects, the 
Steppe was even more unquiet and dangerous than before, and 
frequently the Eussian authorities were compelled to maintain 
their proteges and put down their unruly subjects by force of 
arms, while the trade with the settled countries of Central 
Asia was greatly obstructed. In 1824 the Khanate was 
abolished, and the whole country was divided into three dis- 
tricts, which were governed by three Sultans Eegent. These 
divisions were, however, carelessly made, tribal distinctions 
and rights of land not having been recognised, and the diffi- 
culties of the situation were not removed. The Kirghiz had 
great respect for their aristocracy, and the common people, 
or i black bone,' were led by the ' white bone ' (the Kirghiz for 
blue blood), or the descendants of the old Khans and ruling 
families. These men stood up for their tribes and families in 
defence of the honour and safety of their members. Eeverencing 
at the same time bravery, dash, and boldness, and loving their 
freedom, they were always ready to follow the standard of any 
c batyr ' or hero, such as Syrym, Arunhazi, or Kenisar, who might 
appear in the Steppe. The Sultans Eegent were either mere 
Eussian creatures, entirely destitute of influence, or they were 
themselves inclined to revolt at times, and neither they nor 
the annual military expeditions from Orenburg could succeed 
in maintaining order in the Steppe. 

The establishment of Eussian forts and garrisons in com- 
manding positions in the Steppe by the Governor-General 
Obrutchef, in 1845, and the subsequent advances on the Syr 
Darya, brought about a better state of things ; but it was not 
until the final overthrow of the bandit Iset Kutebarof, and the 
death of the celebrated batyr Jan Hodja, that the Steppe became 
quiet and safe, and the Eussians really gained the position of 
protectors of the Kirghiz. Even then all the causes of danger 
were not removed. 

Some years ago an effort was made to abolish, as far as 
possible, the tribal distinctions of the Kirghiz aristocracy, and 


ior the purposes of a better government the so-called reform 
was introduced into the Orenburg Steppe in the year 1869. 
ity this all the Lesser Horde of the Steppe was divided into two 
large districts — the district of Uralsk, and the district of Turgai 
— and each district was placed under the command of a Russian 
military governor, district prefects, and the volost or aul elders, 
fiie district prefects were of course appointed by the Govern- 
ment, while the rulers of the volosts or auls were elected by the 
inhabitants. It was perhaps carrying the system of elective 
government very far to introduce it into the Steppe among 
people who were accustomed to nothing else than hereditary 
and arbitrary rule, for the Khans, when they were still elective, 
were chosen by the aristocracy only, and the result was very 
great discontent, which broke out into open insurrection. 

It is said by the Russians that the distrust and dislike of 
the common people for the Sultans and native aristocracy was 
shown by the fact that very few of the officers who were elected 
belonged to the aristocracy, and that persons who enjoyed the 
confidence of the community were refused election merely on 
the ground that they were Sultans ; and it is alleged that the 
disturbances were chiefly stirred up by the Mullahs, who saw 
that their livelihood would be cut off if they were deprived of the 
position they had held as scribes to the Sultans. There is, how- 
ever, no doubt that the great cause of the disturbances was the 
belief, in great measure founded on fact, that the new regulations 
would give the Kirghiz entirely up to the rule of the Cossacks, 
with whom they had always been at variance. In the Turgai 
district the military governor was entirely independent of Oren- 
burg, although he has thus far always resided in that city ; but 
the Uralsk district was amalgamated with the Ural Cossacks, as 
the military governor of the Uralsk Kirghiz is also the Ataman 
of the Ural Cossacks. The disturbances were also to some ex- 
tent fomented by the Khan of Khiva, and the result was that 
during the whole of the years 1869 and 1870 the Steppe was 
in great commotion. The pr stal route was blockaded, stations 
were destroyed, and even travellers were captured, some being 
killed and others sold into slavery by the Khan, while the 
small garrisons in the Russian fortresses in the Steppe were in 
a very dangerous position. Order was ultimately restored, and 
the Steppe is now in a most tranquil state. The Kirghiz have 

VOL. I. D 


rapidly become accustomed to the Dew order of things, and if. *i 
even said that the clannish feeling for the members of the same 
family and tribe is being transferred to the members of t*i3 
same volost and district. The Middle Horde followed th3 
Lesser Horde in demanding Russian protection, but it was only 
in 1781, on the death of the bold Sultan Ablai, who by skilful 
coquetry with both Russia and China had managed to retain a 
real independence, that the Russian sway became fixed. The 
Greater Horde became subject to Russia only in 1847. 

It is very difficult to calculate the numbers of the Kirghiz, 
but so near as can be ascertained by the return of taxes, which 
amount to three roubles on each kibitka, there are in all about 
a million and a half. In the Greater Horde, in the district of 
Alatau, there are about 100,000 of both sexes ; in the Middle 
Horde, occupying the whole of Southern Siberia and country 
north of Tashkent, there are 406,000 ; and in the Lesser 
Horde, between Fort Perovsky, the Ural, and the Caspian, there 
are 800,000. There is still another horde, the Bukeief, or 
Inner Horde, living in Europe, between the Ural and the Volga, 
numbering perhaps 150,000. This horde was formed in the 
early years of the present century by about 7,000 of the Lesser 
Horde, led by Bukeief, a grandson of Abul-Khair, who crossed 
the Ural to occupy the land left vacant by the Kalmuks. In 
1812 Bukeief was confirmed Khan. This is the ancestor of 
Prince Tchinghiz, mentioned in the opening of the chapter. 

The flocks and herds of the Kirghiz form their only wealth, 
and are without doubt a source of income to the empire, though 
it is not easy to calculate the amount. According to the 
statistics of 1869 there were sold by the Kirghiz at the exchange 
bazaars of Orenburg and Troitsk: camels, 1,150 head; horses, 
1,001 head ; herding cattle, 16,031 ; sheep, 273,823, amounting 
in all to 1,500,000 roubles, or 200,000£. At Petropavlovsk, on 
the Siberian border, the sales of cattle from 1856 to 1865 
amounted to over two and a half millions of roubles yearly 
(340,000^.)? and the sale of leather and hides to 400,000 
roubles (55,0001.) yearly. 

In spite of its Turkish origin the Kirghiz race has almost 
as much of a Mongol as of a Turkish type. This is especially 
noticeable in the aristocratic class, above all in their women ; and 
one reason is said to be that the Kirghiz, until recent times, 
preferred, whenever possible, to marry Kalmuk women, carry- 


ing them off from the confines of China or the Astrakhan steppe. 
It would be very difficult to describe any one face as showing 
the typical Kirghiz traits, for, ranging through slight gradations, 
there are at last strong contrasts to be observed. Still the 
Kirghiz type readily impresses itself on the memory, and seen a 
few times is not soon forgotten. The Kirghiz are in general 
short of stature, with round swarthy faces, insignificant noses, 
and small sharp black eyes, with the tightly-drawn eyelid which 
is seen in all the Mongol tribes. 

In winter the Kirghiz sometimes live in underground huts, 
entered by crooked passages, where children, calves, and colts 
all sleep and play together ; but usually their habitation, both 
in winter and summer, is akibitka, a circular tent made of felt 
spread over a light wooden frame. This frame is easily taken 
apart and put together, and is so light as to form a load for a 
single camel only. The broad pieces of felt are easily stretched 
over it, so that the whole can be put up in about ten minutes. 
On one side is a door covered by a flap of felt, and the fire 
is built in the middle, the smoke escaping through an opening 
in the roof. The interior of the tent is decorated with pieces 
of ribbon of various kinds, used to fasten down the felt, 
and around the sides the Kirghiz place and hang all their 
valuable goods, consisting of carpets, silk mattresses, and 
clothes, and sometimes, in cases of the richer men, of even silver 
articles, with the trappings of horses and household utensils. 
The kibitka forms a most comfortable abode, being cool in 
summer and warm in winter. 

Being Mussulmans, the men all shave their heads and 
allow their beards to grow, although usually their beards are 
very insignificant — a straggly tuft of hair scarcely covering 
the chin. They wear immense baggy leather breeches, and 
a coarse shirt with wide flapping collars. Their outer gar- 
ment is a dressing-gown, and they usually wear two or three, 
according to the weather. The rich and distinguished have 
magnificent velvet robes, richly embroidered with gold and 
silver. A red velvet robe is given by the Government as 
a mark of distinction, and there is nothing the Kirghiz are 
more proud of, unless it be a medal or a cross. They wear 
on the,:r heads embroidered skull-caps, and over those oddly- 
shaped hoods of sheepskin, with the wool inside, or conical felt 

i> 2 



hats cut with two slits for convenience of turning up the brims, 
and not, as lias been said, that it might not be like a 
Christian hat, of which they know nothing. On grand occa- 
sions the wealthy don tall steeple-crowned hats, with the brim 
turning up in two immense horns, made of felt or usually of 
velvet, embroidered often with gold. But their greatest adorn- 
ments are their belts, saddles, and bridles, which are often so 
covered with silver, gold, and precious stones as to be almost 
solid. The women are dressed the same as the men, but have 
their heads and necks swathed in loose folds of white cotton 
cloth, so as to make a sort of bib and turban at the same time. 


They spin, embroider — very well too — cook, and do most of the 
work, as the men are too lazy to do more than look after the 
horses. The boys are either naked or in a shirt and baggy 
breeches, with capless shaven heads. The girls dress like their 
mothers, with their hair shorn behind, and hanging in front in 
a score of very long fine braids. 

The Kirghiz are in general breeders of cattle and sheep, 
and the search for fresh pastures is the main cause of their 
migrations over the Steppe. They do not, however, wander 


indiscriminately over the vast expanse, but have their settled 
winter and summer quarters, each volost — as they are now 
divided by the Eussians — keeping its own limits. 

Along the Syr-Darya the Kirghiz have to some extent 
begun to cultivate the ground, but in general a person who 
engages in agricultural pursuits is looked down upon by the 
rest. Still, love of gain has been sufficient to counterbalance 
this contempt among the Kirghiz in the vicinity of Aulie-Ata 
and the northern slope of the Alexandrofsky range. There it 
has been found such a lucrative occupation to raise wheat, 
that the Kirghiz Sultans, and after them the lower classes of 
the community, have with eagerness engaged in agriculture. 
It is perhaps one characteristic of nomad life to be utterly 
improvident, and the Kirghiz are particularly so. They are 
able to go without drink for a whole day, and food for several 
days, and will then gorge themselves to repletion. Their food 
consists principally of mutton, although sometimes, especially at 
great feasts, they will indulge in horse-flesh. They, of course, 
have no bread, but they make a sort of porridge of millet or 
other easily cultivated grain, although many of them never use 
this from one year's end to the other. As a drink tea is now 
greatly used in the Steppe, the Kirghiz buying the cheapest 
kind of what is called ' brick tea ' — tea which is hard-pressed 
into moulds, so that it resembles bricks — otherwise they always 
have kumys — a liquor made of fermented mare's milk. Kumys 
is sourish to the taste, but not unpleasant, and possesses agree- 
able exhilarating although not intoxicating qualities. It is 
rapidly coming into use in Russia, especially in the neigh- 
bourhood of Samara, as a cure for many diseases. One of 
their favourite drinks, especially in Central Asia, is buza, a 
kind of beer made of grain, the effect of which is immediately 
to stupefy and deaden the senses rather than to inebriate. 

In religion the Kirghiz are regarded as Mohammedans, al- 
though few have any fixed religious principles, as they have no 
settled priests, and but few can read or write. The rite of circum- 
cision is performed by Tartar Mullahs, who wander through the 
Steppe, some kept as secretaries to rich Sultans, and others en- 
deavouring to gain a livelihood by the profession of a pious life 
or the profession of medicine. They rarely pray, and their faith is 
mingled with many superstitious notions derived from paganism 


and Shamanism. It is only externally that they are Mussulmans. 
On being asked what religion they have, unaccustomed to such 
a form of the question, they will say they do not know, but at 
the same time they would repel with vigour any insinuation 
that they were not good Mussulmans. 

It is a curious fact that the Kirghiz were converted to 
Mohammedanism by the mistaken efforts of the Russian 
Government. At first but a few of their sultans and chiefs 
had any idea of the doctrines of Islam, and there was not a 
mosque nor a mullah in the Steppe, but the Russians (just as 
they insisted on using the Tartar language in intercourse with 
them) insisted on treating them as though they were Moham- 
medans, built mosques and sent mullahs, until the whole people 
became outwardly Mussulman, although the farther from the 
Russian lines, and the nearer to the settled populations of 
Central Asia, the weaker was the faith. In the same way the 
Buriats during the present century were made Buddhists by 
the Russian officials, when they were nothing but Shamanists. 
It would have been easier, had the Government known it, to 
convert both races to Christianity at the outset. In the reign 
of Alexander I., when mysticism and religious enthusiasm 
were in vogue, and the Russian Bible Society flourished, English 
and Scotch missionaries had colonies in Irkutsk, Astrakhan, 
and Orenburg. Mirza Kasem-Beg, the well-known professor of 
St. Petersburg, was the most prominent convert of the Presby- 
terian mission under John Mitchell at Astrakhan. At Oren- 
burg the colony headed by Fraser left an excellent name after 
their forced departure, and the house they built, just beyond 
the town, is still known as ' the English house.' 

The Kirghiz, owing to the simplicity of their life, are far 
more children of nature than most other Asiatics, and have all 
the faults and virtues of children. Probably the first acquaint- 
ance with them will be found disagreeable, and certainly the 
side a traveller sees is their worst, but on knowing them more 
intimately one cannot help liking and even respecting them, 
and it is the verdict of everyone who has lived in Central Asia 
that the Kirghiz are superior to all the other races. 

The men devote themselves almost entirely to the care of 
their horses, leaving all the work to be done by the women, and 
leading in general a lazy shiftless life, although when it comes to 


riding they are indefatigable, and will go hundreds of miles 
without seeming to be in the slightest degree tired. They are 
hospitable, often to a fault, to one of their own race or to 
a fellow Mussulman, nor do I believe that a Christian would 
fare worse among them. I certainly, whenever I happened to 
meet them on the Steppe, was well received, and everything 
which the family possessed was offered to me. They are 
sociable, and always eager for fresh news ; even the telling or 
repeating it has a great charm for them ; and as soon as a man 
arrives among them with a piece of news one of the family will 
immediately start off on a fresh horse and convey the intelli- 
gence to some distant acquaintance. In this way news travels 
through the Steppe almost as if by telegraph. Contrary to most 
other Asiatics, the Kirghiz are unsuspicious, and with child-like 
innocence believe all that is told them ; they are, however, 
themselves far from truthful, though rather from laziness than 
wilful intent to deceive. Their promises are little to be de 
pended upon, and in making a bargain with them, if they once 
obtain what they want, it is difficult to secure the performance 
of their part of the contract. They are light-minded and fickle, 
and easily influenced by the persons with whom they are for the 
moment associated. One of their best traits is their respect for 
age and the authority of their superiors. In war they are in 
general cowardly, though they are found to make excellent 
scouts, partly from their untiringness, and partly from their 
acquaintance with nature and capacity for observation. They 
can see or somehow divine a way in the darkest night, and it 
seems hardly possible for them to get lost in the desert or 
steppe. They measure space by the distance which the voice 
will reach or the eye can observe. They are not cruel by 
nature, and their wars or expeditions, when they undertake 
them, are rather for purposes of plunder than revenge. 
Plundering expeditions are frequent among those Kirghiz who 
are under Eussian rule, though such baruntas are severely 
punished if the perpetrators are discovered. The loss of horses 
iK sheep is a sufficient reason for a baranta, or plundering ex- 
j^dition on a large scale, against one's neighbours, to indemnify 
oneself — really a sort of lynch-law. In disposition they are 
merry and good-natured, and devoted to music, constantly sing- 
ing to themselves. They have many songs not devoid of much 



simple poetry, and as musical instruments have, besides the 
jewsharp, a sort of guitar and a drum. 

Being Mohammedans, they use to the full extent the 
privilege of having many wives, though the first wife is always 
the mistress of the kibitka, and takes rank over the others. 
The seclusion of the harem is impossible in a tent on the Steppe, 
and the women are therefore unveiled, nor is any effort 
made to keep them from the observation of the men. One 
curious thing, however, in connection with their life is that, as 
a mark of respect to their husbands and male relatives, they are 
not allowed to mention their real names in the presence of 
others, but must either call them by some term adopted for the 
purpose or use a circumlocution. An incident is related of 


a Kirghiz woman who wanted to say that a wolf had stolen a 
sheep and taken it to the reedy shore of the lake. Unfortunately 
the men of the family bore names corresponding to most of 
these words, and she was obliged to gasp out that 'in the 
rustling beyond the wet a growler gnaws one of our woollies.' 

A circumcision, a marriage, or a funeral feast among the 
Kirghiz is the signal for a large festival, accompanied by games 
and horse-races. To these men will sometimes ride one or two 
hundred miles for the mere chance of regaling themselves for 
two or three days at another's expense and take their share of 


gorging on whole-roasted sheep and horses. If the horses— foi 
racing — are good, the races are the main feature of the feast, 
and large crowds remain seated with the utmost attention 
to look for the winner. The races being long, often twelve, 
fifteen, or twenty miles, the horses are usually started at a dis- 
tance, as the race is generally in a straight line, and not round 
a circular course. Sometimes very high prizes are offered. I 
was invited to a toi, or feast, near Aulie-ata, where it was said 
would be some celebrated racers from Khokand, and the highest 
prize was as much as 500 roubles, which to a Kirghiz is a very 
great sum. Usually horses are given as prizes. The Kirghiz 
horses are wiry and enduring, and when really of good stock will 
show qualities in these long races which are truly wonderful. I 
saw one race of this kind some years ago, near Orenburg, where 
about a hundred horses were entered, ridden by boys and girls 
of various ages, all dressed in much the same way, and all sitting 
their horses alike, without either saddle or stirrups. This 
being a race got up for the Grand Duke Vladimir, who was 
then there, it was four times round a course marked out on 
the Steppe, making in all 20 versts, or over 13 miles, and was 
won in 29 minutes and 30 seconds. At first the horses ran 
pretty well together, bat by the time they had made the course 
once they were widely scattered, and some passed on the second 
round the horses which had not yet completed the first. I saw 
at the same time a camel-race, for which three camels and a 
dromedary were entered. The poor animals were much 
frightened and confused by the crowd, and had to be dragged 
along and whipped on by horsemen, both when they started and 
as they came in. They started off with a shuffling uneasy trot ; 
'but on the other side of the course, where they were free, they 
went along very well. The dromedary — which was ridden by 
a dark-looking fellow, who seemed as if he were being thrown 
high into the air from the animal's single hump at every step — 
led the race in ; but the horseman who had seized the bridle to 
guide him let go too soon, and away he went blindly among 
the crowd. A camel ridden by a young girl of about eighteen 
actually came in first, and took the prize. 

Besides the racing there is usually wrestling, and especially 
the national sport of baifja, where one man holds a kid thrown 
over his saddle, and everyone else tries to tear it from him. 



There is one race, called the ' Love Chase,' which may be con- 
sidered a part of the form of marriage among the Kirghiz. In 
this the bride, armed with a formidable whip, mounts a fleet 
horse, and is pursued by all the young men who make any pre- 
tensions to her hand. She will be given as a prize to the one 


who catches her, but she has the right, besides urging on her 
horse to the utmost, to use her whip, often with no mean force, 
to keep off those lovers who are unwelcome to her, and she will 
probably favour the one whom she has already chosen in her 
heart. As, however, by Kirghiz custom, a suitor to the hand of 


a maiden is obliged to give a certain kalym, or purchase-money, 
and an agreement must be made with the father for the amount 
of dowry which he gives his daughter, the 4 Love Chase ' is a 
mere matter of form. The kalym often consists, with rich in- 
dividuals, of as many as forty-seven horses, and perhaps a 
medium would be thirty-seven cattle and a few horses. In the 
dowry given by the father must always be included a kibitka for 
the use of the bride. As mullahs are very rare in the Steppe, a 
religious ceremony of any kind at a marriage is unusual, but 
one thing must be strictly performed : after the women have 
sung the virtues of the bride, and the men have chanted those 
of the husband, telling of his great exploits, how many cattle he 
has stolen, and in how many marauding expeditions he has en- 
gaged, the young man must enter the kibitka where the bride 
is seated and take her out, although both entrance and exit 
are forcibly opposed by all her friends. This is probably a 
remnant of the old primitive custom when marriage was an act 
of capture. 




Kazala — Fort No. 1 — Commercial importance — Cordial recejtion — Talk of 
the Khivan expedition — Prospects of joining it — Suspicions — Frustrated 
hopes — We explain — Arrival of Russian captives from Khiva — The Syr 
Darya — Obstacles to navigation, and efforts to improve it — The Aral flotilla 
— A strange birthplace — Fort No. 2 — A Kirghiz cemetery — A Mussulman 
saint — Fort Perovsky— MacGahan starts for Khiva — The Kyzyl Kum 
desert— Hazreti- Turkistan — Mausoleum of Akhmed Yasavi — Inscriptions 
— Ikan — Its brave defence — Tchimkent. 

Our first care on arriving at our hotel at Kazala and taking 
possession of our three rooms, with their dusty tiled floors, was 
to order a hot bath in the little Eussian bath-house, and a 
good dinner ; and while these were preparing we set out to see 
the river, for that, after so much desert, was the main attraction 
to us. We had not far to go through the wide streets, with 
their low mud houses, before we found ourselves under the 
regular slopes of the fortress, on the ramparts of which were 
standing some new rifled cannon, and just beyond it the Syr 
Darya rushed along in a wide turbid yellow flood. Workmen 
were busy putting together a small iron barge ; and farther 
down, close under the guns of the fort, lay anchored the steamers 
of the Aral flotilla. 

In 1847 the Russians built a little fortification at the very 
mouth of the Syr Darya, which they called Fort Raim — the 
first step in that course of Asiatic conquest which is not even 
yet terminated. This post was, however, very unhealthy, 
and subject to frequent overflows, and in 1855 the fort was 
transferred to the present position, where the little branch 
Kazala parts from the main river, and where two years before a 
small fort, called No. 1, had been erected. Since that time it 
has been called indiscriminately either Kazala, Kazalinsk, or 
Fort No. 1. Even here in the spring thf inundations are so 


great thai Kazala is then nothing but a small island in a waste 
of waters. The fort is so close to the bank of the river that it 
is expected that with the constant changes and wearings of the 
current the walls will be undermined and gradually washed 
away. It is a regular fortification, with thick walls of mud- 
bricks, glacis, and ditches, and would be capable of good 
defence even against civilised enemies ; of course against 
Khivans or Turkomans it is absolutely impregnable. Inside 
are the barracks, the shops, and the houses of the different 
officers. The usual garrison consists of a battery of artillery, 
and two sotnias of Cossacks. 1 Eound the fortress has grown up 
a little town, now containing at least 3,000 or 4,000 inhabitants, 
and in the bazaar a lively trade is kept up with the Kirghiz. 
Kazala lies at the junction of all the trade-routes in Central 
Asia, as the road from Orenburg meets here with the Khivan, 
Bukharan, and Tashkent roads. Here, too, is the chief post on 
the river Syr Darya. Should the Asiatic trade be developed, 
Kazala is likely to become a considerable commercial centre, 
and even now the trade is large. The advantages of Kazala 
would, however, be much increased by the erection of proper 
storehouses for goods, and by the establishment of a branch of 
some bank. At present goods arriving from Orenburg or 
other places frequently come here at the times when, owing to 
the state of the roads, it is impossible to carry them farther, 
and they must therefore be stored here for some weeks, or 
possibly months. In addition to there being no good store- 
houses, the owners of the goods are sometimes small capitalists 
unable to afford the delay, and are therefore forced to sell 
the goods at a low price to the local traders of Kazala, who 
take advantage of their necessities. With the extension of 
railways the great fair at Nizhni-Novgorod, where the pro- 
ducts of the East and West have for centuries been exchanged — 
will probably be moved eastward, and in that case Kazala will 
reap great advantages. 

Orenburg seems the natural centre of the Bukharan and 
Khivan trade ; many of the merchants of those cities have 
personally been to Orenburg, and have several commercial con- 
nections there, and would always prefer to continue their trade 

1 A sotnia contains usually 120 men. 


through that city, even should the possible advance of railways 
in a different direction — through Southern Siberia, for instance 
— effect a slight economy of freight on sending their wares to a 
different market. This relation of the two Khanates to Oren- 
burg will always make Kazala a trade-centre, as being the only 
place of importance on the road. It is, however, a most dull 
and uncomfortable place of residence, as the sun streams down 
with great force here during the whole of the summer, and hot 
winds prevail. 

It has not yet been found possible to raise any trees, or at 
most their number can be counted on one's fingers. Even at 
this time we found the heat great, as, when rested and refreshed, 
we strolled about the bazaar, inspecting and pricing the horses 
and camels, with a view to eventualities ; peering into the little 
shops kept by Bukharans, and even Khivans, in their long 
strioed robes ; wondering at the ringleted Jews, living so far 
from the rest of their race, and yet so very Hebrew-like. We 
inspected the piles of felt, the heaps of kibitka frames, and 
the rows of iron caldrons, and watched the broad-shouldered 
hard-faced Kirghiz chaffering and bargaining. Passing beyond 
the bazaar, we entered one good shop, where wines, potted 
meats, pates de foie cjras, English ale, and tinned American 
lobsters are in store for famished travellers, and were accosted 
by a kindly old Colonel, who asked if we were not the Americans 
who had just left him a letter of introduction from General 
Kryzhanovsky. He proved to be Colonel Kosaref, the Com- 
mandant, and gave us at once a most cordial invitation to take 
tea with him. The simplicity and kindliness of our reception 
made us at once feel at home, and we passed a pleasant evening 
in chatting with our host about the Steppe, which he knew so 
well, the Kirghiz, and the lonely life which he had led here at 
Kazala ; before that at Fort No. 2, and still earlier for sixteen 
years at Fort Alexandrovsk, on the Caspian Sea, where there was 
at times communication with Eussia but once or twice a year. 
Two or three officers entered, with whom we made acquaint- 
ance ; and one, Captain Verestchagin, acting for the nonce as 
district prefect, observed us so narrowly and curiously that it 
was evident his suspicions were aroused about our purposes. 
Though the town was small, the Commandant insisted on 
having his droshky brought up for us, lest we might lose our 


way in the dark, and we were safely convoyed past all the 

The next day was the Eussian Easter day, and we took advan- 
tage of the Russian custom to call on all our acquaintances of the 
previous day, as well as to make new ones. It seemed strange 
to us, after our tiresome journey, when we felt that we were so 
far from Europe and civilisation, to hear persons talking of 
going home on leave of absence, and of visiting the Vienna 
Exposition, or of spending the summer in Switzerland, as though 
the journey were nothing at all. I made acquaintance with 
one lady, for instance, who had come alone all the way from the 
borders of Poland in order to marry a man whom she had never 
seen, the marriage having been arranged by common friends. 
As the Russian customs do not allow a marriage in Lent, the 
lady, who had arrived a fortnight before, was still in a state of 
single blessedness, although the marriage was expected to come 
off during the week, and the happy husband was to leave 
immediately for the Khivan expedition. 

At Kazala all the talk was about Khiva. The Kazala 
division had left some time before, and was now supposed to be 
at Irkibai, where a fort was to be erected. Couriers were ar- 
riving from it once or twice a week, and occasionally there was 
one from the Orenburg division, beyond the Emba. A good 
part of the garrison had joined the expedition, and the rest 
were therefore much interested in it. We were urged to go on 
to Khiva, and it was even suggested that a passage might be 
given to us on the steamer ' Samarkand,' which was to start in a 
few days, and was expected to join the expedition in the 
neighbourhood of Kungrad, if it should succeed in getting so 
far. Circumstances looked so promising that I had nearly 
made up my mind to accompany my companion to Khiva, if it 
were possible to secure a passage on the steamer, as thus the 
journey would be comparatively easy, even should we be obliged 
to stay a week or so on the shallow waters of the Aral Sea. 

We were both doomed to disappointment. One morning 
Captain Verestchagin — the same who had looked at us so 
curiously the first night at the Commandant's — called on us. 
He now stated that he had strict orders to allow no one what- 
ever to go on to Khiva, and he had thought it perhaps his duty 
to send us back to Orenburg, but that, as I had brought an 


official letter to the Commandant, and he was willing to vouch 
for us, we would be allowed to go .on to Tashkent. In support 
of his statement he wished me to read two papers. One of 
these was an order from the Governor-General, signed by the 
Governor of the province, stating that should Europeans de- 
sire to enter the province of Turkistan for purposes of trade 
they were not to be allowed to do so without a special written 
permission from the Governor-General, and in default of this 
were to be sent back to the place from which they had come. 
I laughingly said to Captain Verestchagin that I was much 
obliged to him for showing me this document, but that I could 
not see how it affected me, as I was not an European, nor had 
I come there for purposes of trade. The other paper was an 
exceptional order, stating that on the recommendation of 
Admiral Bock two Swiss gentlemen of good family, M. Picquet, 
of Lausanne, and M. Eivas, of Neufchatel, who were travelling 
for scientific purposes, and without political aims, and who 
intended to go from India through Central Asia, would be 
allowed to proceed, and that facilities were to be offered them. 
It would, indeed, have been rather absurd had these poor 
travellers arrived at the Russian frontier, after passing through 
the dangers of Afghanistan and Bukhara, only to be ' sent back 
to the place from which they had come.' I have never been 
able to hear more of these two travellers, except that many 
months afterwards I received information from Balkh that two 
persons, whom I fear to be the same, one disguised as a Jew and 
the other as a Tartar, supposed to be Eussian spies, as they had 
papers on them written in Russian, had been murdered by order 
of the Amir of Balkh. 

The communication of this zealous official convinced my 
companion that there was no possibility of reaching Khiva from 
Kazala, and he resolved to start at once for Tashkent, hoping to 
have better luck either there or on the road to that place. It 
was probably very fortunate for us that we did not sail in the 
' Samarkand.' The steamer was detained a long while at the 
mouth of the river by the obstructions in the channel, and the 
party which left it to join the army of General Verevkin at 
Kungrad were all murdered by the Turkomans. As we were 
about starting the next day the Commandant came to us and of 
his own ac^rd gave us an explanation of the action of Captain 


Verestchagin, saying that as he was a young official left for a 
short time with brief authority he was fearful of taking upon 
himself any responsibility, and desired to recommend himself to 
the Government by the strictness and zeal with which he per- 
formed his duties. 

A short time before we were at Kazala the Khivan Embassy 
arrived, bringing the Eussian prisoners who had been enslaved 
there, and for whose delivery the war was nominally begun. 
They did not meet with the expedition, as they had taken a 
route close along the eastern shore of the Aral Sea. It being 
winter they were able to obtain water by melting the snow. 
As the letters brought by the ambassadors were addressed to 
General Kaufmann no one at Kazala was willing to take the 
responsibility of opening them, and accordingly information was 
sent to him by courier, and after some time wo*" *»'jie back 
that the ambassadors as well as the prisoners were to oe forwarded 
to him at the head-quarters of the expedition. There were 
twenty-one of these prisoners, and during my stay at Kazala they 
could be seen about the town in the striped cotton gowns which 
had been presented to them by the Khan on their departure. 
They all said they had had a hard time of it, but apparently had 
not suffered very much, although they were heartily glad at their 
release, and most of them were celebrating their freedom by 
getting drunk. The majority of them were Cossacks, and com- 
mon soldiers, although there were three or four clerks and mer- 
chants among them. Three of these men were brought to see 
me — a Cossack soldier, who had been captured at Fort Irghiz in 
1869, and two clerks, who together with a companion were taken 
also in the same year. One of these clerks was aged thirty-two, 
and the other about twenty-four. They were engaged in supply- 
ing the military stations with salt meat, and were also engaged 
in trading with the Kirghiz, when suddenly, near a station on the 
Aral Sea, they were captured by a band of hostile Kirghiz, tied 
to their saddles, and taken by long marches, day and night, to 
Khiva, where they were sold. This was during the disturbances 
in the Kirghiz Steppe consequent on the new regulations. As 
»oon as they reached Khiva they were bought by the Khan, with 
most of the other prisoners, for his private use, and lived for 
the greater part of the time in one of his gardens outside of the 
city, where most of them were obliged to act as gardeners. 
vol l e 


though those who knew any special trade were made to work by 
preference at that. As to fare they were treated in the same 
way as the Persian slaves, of whom there were very large 
numbers, and lived chiefly on fruit, rice, and an occasional bit 
f mutton or tallow. They were at first treated with great 
severity, and efforts were made to compel them to become 
Mussulmans, force even being threatened ; but the Khan on 
finding this out at last gave orders that no one should be made 
to change his religion unless he wished. They described the 
Khan as being personally good-natured, and frequently saying a 
word or two to them as he passed through the garden, and laid 
on the Divan-Beghi, or Vizier, the whole blame of the hostile 
relations of the Khanate to Eussia. 

While at Kazala I had an opportunity of visiting and in- 
specting the steamers and barges of the Aral flotilla which were 
then moored there ; but before speaking of this flotilla and of 
its utility I must say a few words about the river Syr Darya 

The Syr Darya or River Syr, {darya meaning river or water- 
course) was known to the Greeks as Iaxartes, and was said by 
Strabo and others to empty into the Caspian Sea. The Arab 
geographers of the Middle Ages called it the Sihwn, just as 
they called the Amu-Darya, or Oxus, Jihun or Gihon, but speak 
of it as flowing into the Sea of Aral. No European traveller 
in Central Asia mentions the river before the Englishman 
Anthony Jenkinson, and in his map, made in 1558, he marks 
it as falling into the Aral Sea, which he calls the 'Chinese lake.' 
But even in spite of this on the maps of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries it is marked as flowing into the Caspian. 
The Eussians, however, through their intercourse with the 
Asiatic tribes, knew more about the river, and in the ' Book of 
the Great Survey,' written in 1627 to explain previous maps, it 
is said that the river Syr Darya flows into the Blue Sea (Aral 
Sea) from the east. 

The river takes its rise amid the high plateaus and ranges 
of the Tian Shan, to the south of the lake Issyk-Kul, at an 
elevation of from 11,500 to 12,000 feet, being formed chiefly 
from the Petrof Glacier. At an elevation of 1 1 ,000 feet the 
small streams already make a considerable river, which is soon 
Imown by the name of Taragai, and after its junction with the 


Karasai and the Kurmenta, a distance of about 100 miles from 
its source, it receives the name of Naryn. The Naryn flows 
through mountain defiles, always with a swift current, over a 
bed full of rocks, with a rapid fall, until near Balyktchi, in 
Khokand, it unites with the river Kara Kuldja. This latter river 
is chiefly called by the natives Syr Darya, and is held by them 
to be the real river, the Naryn being considered only a branch. 
The Kara-Kuldja takes its rise in the Alai mountains, near the 
pass of Terek-Davan, which leads to Kashgar. The character 
of this stream, the course of which has not yet been thoroughly 
explored, is far different from that of the Naryn, as it flows along 
quietly and peacefully, is not deep, and is in many places fordable. 
Its valley is wide and fertile, and was formerly known as the 
vale of Fergana. But the valley of the Naryn, on the contrary, is 
at times merely a narrow defile, although widening out in places 
to a breadth of from three to five miles. The junction of the 
two rivers is about 470 miles from the source of the Naryn. 
From the junction, the river, now called by all the Syr Darya, 
becoming broad and turbulent, and partaking in a great measure 
of the characteristics of the Naryn, both as to the swiftness of its 
current and the muddy colour of its waters, flows on in a south- 
westerly direction, somewhat past the town of Hodjent, when 
it turns to the north and north-west. In the neighbourhood of 
Hodjent the river receives some small tributaries from the 
mountains of the south, but after that the only water which 
it receives comes from the small streams rising in the kara-tau 
mountains, especially the Tchirtchik and Agengeran, in the 
neighbourhood of Tashkent, and the Arys and Bugun, between 
Tchimkent and Turkistan. 

As long as the Syr Darya receives the mountain streams 
there is plenty of water in the river, the depth being from 
twenty to forty feet, and the width in places more than a third 
of a mile. The current is very swift at times, even as much as 
eight feet in a second, although this is of course during the 
high water. The rapidity of the stream changes several 
times during the day, being greatest at ten or eleven o'clock 
in the morning, then gradually diminishing till two in the 
afternoon, and then increasing again. The amount of water in 
the river changes several times in the year, but this is especially 
noticeable at three seasons : about the end of March, on the 

B 2 


breaking up of the ice, when the high water lasts for about ten 
days ; in May, on the melting of the snow on the lower hills ; and 
in June and July, on the melting of the snow on the mountain- 
tops, when the increase of water is greatest. 1 From the station 
of Tiumen-aryk the Syr Darya, still with plenty of water, runs 
on in a broad stream through a tortuous channel between 
tolerably high banks as far as Fort Perovsky. Here begins the 
third phase of the river, for it runs over level ground, with 
scarcely any fall, to the Aral Sea. The banks are covered with 
reeds and swamps ; and the river, instead of taking in tributaries, 
sends off numerous branches, which become lost in the sand, 
and the lack of water and the numerous shoals greatly impede 
navigation. The chief of these branches is called Jany 
Darya, or Yany-Darya — the y of Turki becoming j in the 
Kirghiz dialect — and leaves the main river nearly opposite 
to Fort Perovsky, running in a south-westerly direction to- 
wards the mouth of the Amu Darya. The name means ' new 
river,' and there is a Kirghiz tradition that it was formed in 
part artificially towards the end of the last century, but this is 
evidently an old channel of the river which perhaps had become 
closed up, and in which at that time the water began again to 
flow. The water rarely flows for more than about 150 miles in 
this river, when it is lost in the sand. The marshes below 
Fort Perovsky are very great. Of the two arms into which the 
main river is here divided, the right, Kara-Uziak, is at first a 
broad stream of five or six hundred feet, and flows with a rapid 
current for about twenty-five miles, when it is entirely lost in the 
marshes, and forms lakes and islands, including many floating 
islands, covered with jungles of reeds. After some forty miles 
of such swamps this branch again flows out as a large river for 
about fifty miles, till it joins the main river at Karamaktchi, or 
Fort No. 2. The left branch, the Jaman-Darya, or ' bad river,' 
must therefore be considered the main stream. It is nearly 
160 miles long, and has received its name on account of its 
shoals and the narrowness and tortuousness of its channel. In 
some parts it is not more than 200 feet wide. Below Fort 
No. 2 are some small arms which branch from the river, but 
from this point to the sea it is more easily navigable. 

1 Tie periodical floods of the Syr Darya have a most important influence on the 
cultivitio*. of the land a] mg its banks. 


It is now, I believe, a well-settled fact that the Amu Darya, 
or Oxus, formerly flowed into the Caspian Sea. The explorations 
which have been conducted with regard to what is called the 
' ancient bed' show that it really was the channel of a deep and 
broad river. There is good reason to believe also that the 
ancient geographers were right in saying that the Syr Darya 
also discharged its waters into the Caspian, although in a some- 
what different manner from what has generally been imagined. 

The following theory was suggested to me by my friend 
Colonel Tchaikofsky, at Samarkand, who had lived a long time 
in Central Asia and was familiar with the country ; and subse- 
quent study and personal investigation have satisfied me of its 
great plausibility. 

It would seem strange that such a powerful river as the Amu 
Darya, after flowing in a general north-westerly direction, should 
suddenly turn almost at right angles in its course and run south- 
westerly to the Caspian. Eivers do not do this unless there is 
some natural obstacle to prevent their keeping on in a straight 
course, and in this case it is evident there is no such obstacle, 
from the fact that the river now flows in the same general north- 
westerly direction to the Aral Sea. 

Some have supposed that this change of bed was owing to a 
gradual change of inclination and level in the surface of the 
Steppe towards the NE., and it may be that such a change has 
really taken place, but it will be noticed on looking at the map 
that the Jany Darya, which leaves the Syr Darya at Fort 
Perovsky, running in a south-westerly direction, is nearly in a 
line with the 'ancient bed' of the Oxus ; and as far as investi- 
gations have been made there seem to be traces of an ' ancient 

1 A map of the Russian dominions was made in the reign of the. Tsar Fedor 
(1584-1598). In 1627 this map had become very old and worn, and it was re- 
newed and corrected, and accompanied by an exact written description, to which 
the title was given of ' Book of the Great Survey.' The map has unfortunately 
disappeared, but the book is full of precious materials for geography, and contains 
some curious indications for that of Central Asia. Among them is the following, 
Ed. Yazykof, 1838, p. 72 : ' From the Khvalym (Caspian) Sea to the Blue Sea 
(AraD toward the place of sunrise in summer, in a straight line is 250 versts. 
Along the Blue Sea to the mouth of the river Syr is 280 versts. Across the Blue 
Sea is 60 versts ; and in the Blue Sea the water is salt. The river Arzaz, or 
Argaz, flows out of the Blue Sea and into the Sea of Khvalym. Into the rivet 
Arzaz from the east flows the river Amu Darya. To the source of the Amu Darya 
is 300 versts, and to the source of the Arzaz is 1,060 versts.' 


bed ' in the same line from the Amu Darya, in a north-westerly 
direction, as if to meet the Jany Darya. 1 There are also traces 
of an old river-bed in an easterly and north-westerly direction, 
from Fort Perovsky, on the other side of the Syr Darya. It 
would seem that the waters of the Tchu and Sary-su, which are 
now lost in the Saumal Kul, Tele Kul, and other lakes and 
swamps, were formerly conveyed into the Syr Darya near 

The Tchu is now barely navigable in the upper course tc 
below Tokmak, and is then so lost in the sands that even a 
small boat cannot proceed on it. 

The Tchu takes its rise in the Tian Shan, to the south of 
the Alexandrovsky range, and to the south-west of Issyk Kul. 
At the head of the Buam Pass the river is about four miles 
distant from the Issyk Kul. There is now a smal] channel con- 
necting the lake with the river, and in spring floods the river 
is as apt to flow into the lake as the lake is to flow into the 
river. Lake Issyk Kul, which is a large body of water, 1 20 
miles long by thirty-three wide, has at present no outlet. Its 
shores, however, afford indubitable evidence of numerous eleva- 
tions and depressions. At one time the water evidently reached 
the bases of the surrounding mountains, at a height of some 
hundred feet above the present river. 

From the Buam Pass, and along the valley of the Tchu, far 
below Tokmak, there is every evidence of the river having been 
formerly much greater and higher than at present. It is 
probable, therefore, that at some previous time in the world's 
history Lake Issyk Kul — itself fed by small streams and the 
snows of the surrounding mountains — discharged its waters 
into the Tchu. The Tchu, running north-westerly, with a 
broad and rapid stream, received perhaps also the water of the 
great lake of Balkash, with its large tributaries the Hi and the 

1 Since writing the above I have been informed by Colonel Sobolef, of the 
Amu Darya Exploring Expedition of 1874, that he found a wide and well-marked 
river-bed extending from the Amu Darya at Shurakhana to the north-east, in the 
direction of the Jany Darya. This he explored for some forty miles. Major 
Wood, who accompanied the expedition, believes that the course of the Amu 
Darya may have been changed through the irrigation canals near Khiva, which 
took off so much water during the summer floods that the remainder was unequal 
to the task of washing away the silt deposited in the river-bed during the low 
water of winter. 


Karatal ; then turned westerly and received other rivera, such 
as the Sary-su, to the neighbourhood of Fort Perovsky, and 
then probably ran in a south-westerly direction through the 
bed of what is now the Jani Darya and the ' ancient bed ' of 
the Amu Darya, until it emptied into the Caspian Sea. The 
Syr Darya and Amu Darya were, therefore, probably only large 
branches of the river Tchu. When a depression of the basin of 
lake Issyk Kul took place the waters of the lake were prevented 
from emptying into the Tchu. The volume of water in this 
river was therefore much lessened, and owing to the spongy 
nature of the soil, it formed large marshes and small lakes, and 
became entirely lost before it reached the meridian of Fort 
Perovsky. The rapid current of the Syr Darya, no longer 
turned by a powerful river coming from the east, impinged 
violently upon the opposite bank, creating large swampy and 
morasses, and finally found its way through them along the 
almost level Steppe until it emptied by various channels into 
the northern end of the Aral Sea, as at present. 

In the same way the Amu Darya continued its course in a 
north-westerly direction, forming marshes about the places 
where it formerly turned at right angles into the ' ancient bed,' 
and found a new outlet in the southern end of the Aral Sea. 
This would be quite sufficient to account for the legends which 
exist with regard to the sudden change of the waters of the 
Amu Darya, and for the fact of its having been found impossible 
to restore the river to its ancient bed, although dykes and dams 
were erected by its inhabitants to prevent it from overflowing 
the country and creating marshes. 

The stretch between Fort No. 2 and Fort Perovsky is the 
great obstacle to the successful navigation of the Syr Darya. 
All attempts to better it seem to have been unsuccessful. The 
ill success of the first attempt, in 1853, at the navigation ot 
this portion of the river was attributed to the breaking of the 
dyke at Kara Bugut, near the separation of the Jani Darya, 
which was said to have lowered the water in the Jaman 
Darya. In the autumn and winter this dyke was rebuilt, but 
in the next year it was again broken. In 1856 Lieutenant 
Butakof attempted to widen a small stream connecting the 
Kara-uziak with the Jaman Darya, in hopes of avoiding the 
navigation of the very narrowest part of the river, and letting 


water into it from the Kara-uziak, and at the same time ol 
cutting off some of the capes and of straightening the channel. 
These works were continued with vigour during 1856 and 1857, 
but had to be given up, as the water did not rise sufficiently 
high to wash away the barriers in the manner proposed. In 
1860 it was proposed to clean out the channel of the Kara-uziak 
for a distance of nearly four miles, which it was calculated 
would occupy sixty-five men for 180 days. The work was 
undertaken against the stream, in order that the water might 
immediately carry away the obstructions. Operations were 
carried on for twenty days only during the year. The next 
year little was done, as the troops were occupied with construct- 
ing the fortress of Julek, and besides this convictions began to 
be entertained of the uselessness of the proceeding. Again in 
1862 an attempt was made to increase the water in the 
Jaman Darya, but failure once more resulted. Led by the idea 
that the two new steamers which had been constructed for the 
flotilla would be sufficient to overcome all the difficulties of 
navigation, nothing was done during the next year, but in 1864 
there was a small expedition sent out by Captain Schott to 
explore the Kara-uziak, and it was reported that it would not 
take long to clean it, and that navigation was always possible 
on it for seven or eight months of the year. In the autumn, 
however, the expedition reported that this was impossible. 
Two years were then spent in projects; and in 1866, it being- 
resolved that the cleaning of the channel of the Karauziak woidd 
be dear and difficult, it was decided to dig a canal from the 
Syr Darya to the Jaman Darya, above its commencement. 
The work continued for seventeen days, employing 400 men a 
day. and the cost of the canal amounted to 2,471 roubles. On 
June 21 the canal was opened, and it was hoped that the high 
water of the following spring would widen it and render it 
navigable for ships. On the contrary, the canal was filled up 
with sand, and the navigation was made worse. Since that 
time nothing has been done. 

With such obstructions to navigation it is not to be won- 
dered at that the Aral flotilla has been of little service, though 
there are also other reasons for its inutility. The formation of 
the fleet was contemporary with the establishment of the 
fortress of Kaim, and in the year 1847 there were constructed 


in Orenburg two two-masted schooners, the ' Nikolai and 
1 Mikhail.' The first was intended for surveying purposes, and 
the second for starting a fishery; but as the ships did not dare 
go far out to sea little was done in 1847 besides surveying the 
Kos Aral and the other islands which lie near the eastern coast. 
Meanwhile another schooner was constructed in Orenburg, the 
' Konstantin,' somewhat larger than the others, and in this 
vessel Lieutenant Butakof, in 1848 and 1849, completely 
surveyed the Aral Sea. 

In 1850, upon the proposition of General Obrutchef, an 
order was given to the Mutal factory, in Sweden, for the con- 
struction of two vessels, a forty-horse-power steamboat called 
' Perovsky,' and a twelve horse-power iron barque, with a screw, 
the ' Obrutchef.' These vessels cost in Sweden 37,445 roubles, 
and with their transport and the payment for the mechani- 
cians brought out from Sweden cost at Kazala 49,347 roubles. 
The steamer ' Perovsky ' was launched on the Syr Darya in 
1853, but owing to the non-arrival of its wooden parts the 
'Obrutchef could not be used before 1855. The 'Perovsky' 
was armed with three nine-pounders, and the ' Obrutchef ' 
was fitted to receive two similar guns in case of necessity. 
The ' Perovsky,' however, was found to be too large for the 
successful navigation of the difficult parts of the river, 
and was continually getting aground. During the season 
available for navigation the 'Perovsky' could make only 
three round trips from Fort No. 1 to Fort Perovsky, towing 
two barges. The up trip occupied from ten to twelve days, 
and the down trip seven or eight days. After the order for 
these two steamers it became necessary to provide fuel. 
During the whole of 1851 the two schooners ' Konstantin' and 
' Mikhail ' were engaged in conveying saksaul and other roots 
from the banks of the Aral Sea to the island of Kos Aral, but 
General Perovsky wrote that it would be impossible to supply 
the steamers with this fuel alone, as it was very difficult to 
obtain and to use it. Saksaul (Haloxylon annmodendron, 
Bunge,) is of a very close fibre, full of knots, and most difficult 
to be sawn or split, and breaks into very crooked and unmanage- 
able pieces. Accordingly a contract was made for bringing 
anthracite coal from the Don, and in 1852 one hundred and 
eighty tons were brought to tne fort, at a cost of six rubles 


per ton. When anthracite was used for fuel each round trip 
of the • Perovsky ' to Fort Perovsky and back cost about 2 3 500 
rubles (344J.). When the furnaces were heated with sak- 
saul it was necessary to use four times as much fuel, though, 
owing to the much smaller price, six kopeks a pud (thirty-six 
pounds), the trip cost only 520 rubles. Consequently, by 
calculating the carrying capacity of the ' Perovsky ' and of her 
barges, it was found that the transport of every pud of cargo 
between Fort No. 1 and Perovsky cost the Government thirty 
kopeks, which was but slight economy, as by land carriage it 
cost only forty or fifty kopeks. But by heating with saksaul 
the cost of transport was not more than three kopeks a pud, 
which was consequently a saving to Government of forty-seven 
kopeks. The resolution was therefore adopted to transport as 
far as possible, all provisions, materials, &c. by water from 
Fort No. 1 to Perovsky and Julek. 

In 1860 two new steamers were ordered in Liverpool, at 
the Hamilton Works, to be built of corrugated iron, according 
to the Francis system, flat-bottomed, and stern-wheelers. At 
the same time there were ordered at Liverpool a floating 
pontoon dock and six shallops, and at the Kama-Votka Works 
three barges. The steamers were brought in pieces from 
Orenburg, on the backs of camels, and being put together at 
Kazala, were launched in the autumn of 1862. They were both 
armed with 9- pounders, and were called respectively the ' Syr 
"Darya ' and the ' Aral.' The first was of twenty-horse-power, 
costing when delivered 16,000 roubles, and the second, of forty- 
horse-power, costing 30,080 roubles ; but the navigation returns 
for 1863 showed that the new steamers, instead of being better, 
were worse than the old ones. The 6 Aral,' which ought to carry 
at least 540 tons weight, could not take more than 216 tons. 
The iron turned out very fragile, and the vessel was not suffi- 
ciently strong. The machinery also was badly built. The boilers 
were placed so far from the engines that the steam lost 10 per 
cent, of its force, and necessitated a very great expenditure of 
fuel, seventy-two puds of saksaul an hour for every horse-power, 
so that it used in one month what should have lasted for six. 
Besides, the construction of the engines rendered the working 
of the steamer \rery difficult, subjecting it to the danger of 
being blown up. The vessel was very deep in the water, and 


unfitted for river navigation. The stern being too low down, 
the steamer got aground very deeply ; and being of thin iron 
was very difficult to get off the shoals. The ' Syr Darya ' had 
the same defects as the ' Aral,' although it was in parts better 
constructed ; but instead of carrying at least 216 tons of freight 
at a speed of four versts an hour, it could not move at that 
speed more than 172 tons. These defects were, however, in 
some measure overcome by reconstructing the engines. The 
floating pontoon dock, which cost about 30,000 roubles, was 
also constructed of corrugated iron, in two parts, each 42 feet 
by 30 feet, united by diagonal bridges passing over it for 20 
feet. The current of the river, however, was so strong, being 
more than two miles an hour, that had the dock been put in 
the water it would have been lost in the spring, if not in the 
autumn, and it was found better to repair the vessels on the 
shore itself rather than place them in the dock. For these 
reasons it has never been used. The barge, which was to carry 
36 tons of freight, was found to be useless, because it would not 
obey the rudder, but turned its side to the current, and there- 
fore the commanders of the steamers have never dared to use it. 
The barges built in Eussia were more successful ; they were 99 
feet long by 18 broad, with two masts and sails, and could 
carry 63 tons, but with this load they drew 3£ feet of water, 
and therefore were not fully suitable for river navigation. The 
great increase of traffic rendered it necessary in 1865 to in- 
crease the flotilla, and three large barges, to carry 162 tons 
each, were bought in Eussia, and another ferry-boat in addi- 
tion to the two already existing ; and in 1866 the steamer called 
' Samarkand ' was built at Cockerill's works, in Belgium, at a 
cost of 78,700 roubles. It was of 70 horse-power, 150 feet long, 
and 22 broad, of 154 tons, with three furnaces, and carried two 
guns. In addition to this another steamer, the 'Tashkent,' 
was added in 1870, built in Eussia, costing 35,000 roubles, of 35 
horse-power, 104 feet long by 16 broad, and with single 
furnaces. Of all these steamers the ' Samarkand ' is the only 
one which seems to be capable of doing good service, although 
in this, as I was informed, the iron -plates are in places as thin 
as paper, and it was considered to be a great risk to send her to 
the mouths of the Amu Darya to join the Khivan expedition. 
When T was in Kazala she was still undergoing repairs, having 


been injured in coming down shortly before from Fort Perov sky 
to Kazala, where she had got on a shoal, and it had become 
necessary for over one hundred men to dig a canal through the 
shoal to get her off, a proceeding occupying over a week. 
Besides the saksaul, which is becoming somewhat difficult to 
obtain, coal was used in a great measure for fuel on the 
steamers, being brought from the mines near Tashkent, but 
always at considerable expense, although much cheaper than if 
brought overland from the Don. The working of these mines 
has, however, now ceased. 1 

So far as we have statistics of the traffic of the flotilla there 
were carried in 







1,491 tons 

218 tons 



1,416 „ 

318 „ 



2,633 „ 

404 „ 



2,081 „ 

56 „ 



2,920 „ 

24 „ 


We thus see that while the use of the steamers for Govern- 
ment has greatly increased, in consequence of the larger 
amount of Government stores and troops, for the passengers 
are chiefly soldiers, which have to be transported to the upper 
portions of the river, the private traffic has much fallen off. 
This is chiefly owing to the difficulties of navigation, and 
especially to the peculiarities of the transport business between 
Orenburg and the river. The freight is very apt to accumulate 
at Kazala in quantities too great to be transported in one 
season, and for that reason private business is chiefly carried on 
by the old mode of camel transportation. 

It was on Tuesday, April 22, that we finally got off from 
Kazala. The day was extremely warm, although there was a 
fresh breeze on the Steppe, where the coming spring had 
begun to spread a slight yellowish green tint over the whole 
surface of the country, and the first flowers were appearing, 
especially the small yellowish fragrant tulips. The first two 
stations, which were small Kirghiz kibitkas, where two or three 

1 The account of the navigation of the Syr Darya and the Aral flotilla is chiefly 
lased on an article in the Military Review' (' Voennoi Sbornik') for April 1872. 


families seemed to be living, we made in good time , but it 
soon began to rain riolently, and we lost our road and got 
into very rough ground, neither of our drivers having the least 
idea where we were. At last we saw a light in the distance, 
which we hoped was the station, but on coming to it we found 
it to proceed from a kibitka of some poor Kirghiz, who pro- 
fessed utter ignorance of any station, saying that they were 
strangers. We went in and made tea with very muddy water, 
and a supper of sardines and cold goose, to the delight and 
admiration of our host, his wives and numerous dependents, 
who sat around the tire. For us was reserved the post of 
honour, and we reclined on the best cotton quilt, propped up 
against our pillows, carrying on a lively conversation through 
Ak-Mametef. There was no light but the fire in the middle of 
the floor, the smoke going out by a hole in the roof, which let 
in the rain at the same time, except a bit of candle we had 
part of the time, for which we extemporised a candlestick by 
rolling a handkerchief round it. It was a scene for Rembrandt, 
or rather for Gherardo del la Notte. Great wonder was 
manifested at our clothes, at the articles of our provision- 
basket, and especially at our knives and forks ; and we could not 
resist delighting the jolly looking Kirghiz by giving him a 
knife and fork from our small store. But we at last got warmed 
through ; and becoming tired of inquiries about Kirghiz family 
and domestic life, went to sleep in our carriage in spite of the 
rain, waking up in the morning to find that we were only 
about a mile from the station, although far off from the road. 

Owing to this misadventure and to difficulties in getting 
horses and camels, we did not get to Fort No. 2, only 120 miles, 
until Thursday noon ; but the way was not without its amuse- 
ment. At the station of Ak-jar we were obliged to wait for 
several hours, where we really enjoyed ourselves, as it was a 
splendid day. There was a lovely view of a bend in the river ; 
and the station itself, which was kept by a Cossack and his 
newly married wife, was beautifully clean. We passed our time 
in shooting at a mark — practising against possible Turkomans — 
and when tired of that were treated to some fresh bread, hot 
from the oven, to say nothing of an omelette and a cold pheasant. 

At one station we found the room occupied, much to our 
regret, as we were desirous of stretching ourselves, but when we 


heard the cause we could not help laughing", and were willing 
to have a felt spread for us in the sun out of doors. It seems 
that the wife of an officer, who was accompanying him from 
Tashkent to St. Petersburg, had just presented him with an 
heir, in spite of the uncomfortableness and difficulties of the 
situation. We endeavoured to be as friendly as travellers 
should be to one another, and the officer was glad to accept 
a bottle of red wine for his wife and some cans of condensed 
milk for his child. Everything seemed to be going on well, 
and he hoped to be able to start the next day. 

Fort No. 2, or Karamaktchi, is almost as bad and un- 
comfortable a place as Karabutak. It has but a small garrison, 
and is situated directly on the bank of the river, which seems, 
indeed, to be eating away its walls. A few huts along the 
river-bank make up the town. There was no ferry and no 
bazaar, so that it was useless to attempt crossing the river here, 
and MacGahan saw himself forced to wait till Perovsky at 
least, though chafing at the delay, which might prevent him 
from seeing the fall of Khiva. 

Not far from the station there was a large Kirghiz burying- 
ground, which was not without interest, as it contained very many 
tombs, some small mounds of earth, others temples and 
pavilions of different kinds and descriptions, some even looking 
like small castles, in which were placed the actual tombs, 
There appeared nowhere to be any inscriptions. Such ceme- 
teries are not infrequent in this part of the Steppe, especially 
along the river-banks, and at a distance look like the ruins 
of some antique city. At Khorkhut, the last station before 
Fort No. 2, there is a similar cemetery, but there most of the 
tombs are built of burned bricks, and there are many stone 
slabs with Arabic inscriptions. In the neighbourhood are 
many mounds and heaps, and in all probability this was the 
site of the ancient Jend. One of the largest of these tombs, 
now half-ruined, is pointed out as that of the famous saint 
Khorkhut, concerning whom is a curious local tradition. This 
Khorkhut, who was fourteen feet tall, was once living on the 
extreme edge of the world, when he dreamed one night that some 
men were digging a grave there. ' For whom do you dig it?' said 
the saint. ' For Khorkhut,' was the reply. The anxious 
Khorkhut, wishing to avoid the death which threatened him, 



went the next day to live on the other edge of the world. 
There he had the same dream. Again at dawn he set out, and 
in this way, followed by his vision, he went over all the corners 
of the earth. In despair, not knowing where to go, he resolved 
to remove to the centre of the world, which proved to be the 
bank of the Syr, on this spot. No sooner thought than done. 
But his dream still pursued him. The holy man then thought 
to cheat fate. Concluding that there was no safety for him on 
land, he made up his mind to live on the water, so spread his 


mantle on the Syr and sat down on it. Here he sat for a 
hundred years, always playing on the lute, till at last he died. 
The pious Mussulmans took his body and buried it here. 

From Fort No. 2 to Perovsky we could no longer follow the 
river, on account of the swamps, but were obliged to make a 
long detour to the north. Formerly the road lay on the other 
side of the river, it being necessary to cross it at Fort No. 2, 
and again at Fort Perovsky. The new route has hardly yet 
been put into good order. All of the stations are as yet under- 
ground huts. The road, however, was good, and the horses were 


much better than usual, so that we reached Perovsky late the 
next night. 

These marshes are said to be infested with tigers and wild 
boars, and tiger-shooting is a favourite sport of some of the 
officers of the garrison. Along the road we heard many fright- 
ful stories of the depredations of the tigers, when, in cases of 
extreme hunger they came to the stations and carried off cattle, 
and even children and men, and we were recommended to be 
constantly on our guard, and have our revolvers ready, in case 
of attack — advice which of course was intended well, but which 
proved utterly useless, for we saw no tigers. 

It was nearly midnight when we reached Fort Perovsky, 
and to our disgust we found the post-station — where we pre- 
ferred to stop, thinking it would be better to avoid observation 
— already occupied by other travellers. We were therefore 
obliged to pass the night in a filthy little room at what was 
called an hotel, although the next day by good luck we found 
excellent quarters in the house of a Finnish lady, whose husband 
was engineer of the steamer ' Samarkand.' 

Fort Perovsky was originally a fort and town belonging 
to Khokand, called Ak-Masjid (white mosque), which was 
captured by the Russians under General Perovsky in 1853, 
after a very stubborn defence conducted in part by Yakub 
Khan, the present ruler of Kashgar. During the twenty-five 
days' siege the Russian artillery had such an effect upon the 
mud-walls of the fort that the Khokandians were quite ready 
to give up the place, and sent a letter to General Perovsky to 
that effect. It is said that notwithstanding this the Russian 
general was determined to win a little glory at any expense, 
and, throwing the letter into the fire, replied to the messenger, 
4 We shall take the fort by assault,' which he did on the 
following morning. The fort has of course been completely 
rebuilt by the Russians, although some portions of the ancient 
constructions are still standing. The town has thriven since 
its occupation by the Russians, and now covers considerable 
space. While it is full of Kirghiz, like Kazala, it differs from 
that town in having a very large population of Sarts and 
Khivans as well as Bukharans, and has in consequence a 
thoroughly Oriental aspect. In my wanderings about the town 
I was particularly struck with the makhtab, or primary school. 


It was in a little room that opened directly on the street ; and 
although the boys manifested some little curiosity as we passed 
and looked up, the teacher dropped his eyes at once, and made 
them go on with their tasks, each repeating the lesson in the 
loudest tone of voice, and seesawing his body backwards and 
forwards, kneeling as he was, in order better to impress upon 
his memory the Arabic task, of the meaning of which, being 
taught by rote, he had no idea. There was a large public 
garden, full of trees, and beyond this a grove, extending for 
a considerable distance. Further on still is the monument 
erected to the memory of the Kussian soldiers who fell in the 

The weather had now changed from winter to midsummer, 
and the days were oppressively warm. The grass was beginning 
to spring up, and the peach trees had begun to blossom. It 
was even at times uncomfortably hot to walk across the broad 
place which separated the fortress from the surrounding houses. 
At sunset, however, it was very pleasant, and even at night it 
was sufficiently warm to stay out of doors in the moonlight. 

I remained at Fort Perovsky five days, as MacGahan had 
decided to start from here at all hazards, to try and make 
his way across the desert to the head-quarters of the expe- 
dition, and I was desirous of seeing him safely off, and doing 
what I could to facilitate his departure. Our days were 
taken up in vain searchings for camels, horses, and guides. 
Many times were we deceived, and it was only when we, as a 
last resort, had recourse to Captain Kodionof, the acting dis- 
trict prefect, that all obstacles were as by magic removed. 

Up to this time, remembering our experience at Fort No. 1, 
we had avoided the officers and the official world. MacGahan 
was the happiest of men, as he felt that, official consent having 
been secured, nothing but the desert and the Turkomans stood 
in the way of his joining General Kaufmann. Horses were at 
once forthcoming, and were soon packed and saddled, and with 
light hearts the little caravan started over the ferry, while I 
regretfully stood on the bank and saw them safely across the 
river. I heard but once from MacGahan during the whole 
summer, as in some singular way all our letters which were not 
sent by private hands failed to reach us. I frequently, how- 
ever, heard of him, his ride across the desert being spoken of 

VOL. I. F 


everywhere in Central Asia as by far the most wonderful thing 
that had ever been done there, as he went far through a country 
which was supposed to be hostile, knowing nothing of the roads 
or of the language. Even the officer whose scouts had failed to 
catch MacGahan, from whom long afterwards, on coming from 
Khokand, I first heard of my companion's safe arrival at Khiva, 
was delighted at his pluck, and used the significant Russian 
expression, ' Molodetz ' — ' a brave young fellow ' — the greatest 
possible praise under such circumstances. At Tashkent, how- 
ever, there was great alarm over possible English spies, and I 
feared for a moment that it would fare hardly with Captain 
Rodionof; but in the end General Kaufmann's good sense 
triumphed over the foolish fears of his officials. 

Having seen MacGahan safely across the river, I started off 
myself about 7 o'clock for Tashkent. It was a lovely evening, 
and I was fully disposed to enjoy the scenery, which, in spite of 
its flatness, is really pretty in the neighbourhood of Fort 
Perovsky. There are large numbers of shrubs, especially 
saksaul and calligonum, and many were thickly covered with 
white and pink blossoms. Others, again, were clothed in pale 
green, and the pleasant evening light added a peculiar charm. 
At every step magnificent golden pheasants started up. They 
are not wild, and suffer one to approach very near, and are 
therefore very easily killed ; but unfortunately MacGahan had 
taken with him all the fowling-pieces, so that I had nothing to 
shoot with. All along the Syr Darya the shooting is very good ; 
not only pheasants, geese, ducks, grouse, and partridges, but 
even much larger game can be met with. 

The horses which they had given me were really excellent, 
and for the only time, I think, in my whole trip we did not 
stop once to arrange or repair the harness, and consequently 
made the sixteen miles in an hour and three-quarters. 

Travelling all night, I reached Julek, a Russian fort on the 
banks of the river, distant some seventy miles from Perovsky, 
at 9 o'clock. In order to make myself fresh for the day's travel 
I was just on the point of stripping to take a bath, when to my 
great regret two carriages came up with some ladies and children, 
so that I was obliged to content myself with a basin of water 
behind the house. We had tea and breakfast together, soon 
made acquaintance, and had a very pleasant time. We were 


then seized upon by one of the officers of the fort, who insisted 
that we should come and breakfast with him, which of course 
detained us all for an hour or two longer. 

This rencontre turned out very well for me, for one of the 
ladies whom I met was the wife of an officer in Tashkent, and 
sent letters to him by me. She asked me where I intended to 
stop there ; and as I had no place in view, almost insisted that 
I should go to her husband, who had a large house ; and as I 
willingly complied with her request, I was made comfortable 
during the whole of my stay in Tashkent. 

The fort, which was constructed in 1856, on the site of a 
Khokandian fortress captured and destroyed in 1853, during 
the siege of Ak Masjid, was, until the campaign of 1863, the 
farthest Kussian outpost in Asia. It is especially noticeable for 
having the prettiest Kussian church of any fortress in these 
parts. There was at that time no resident priest there, and one 
from Perovsky had just come on to officiate for two or three 

Not long after leaving Julek I began to see a faint blue line 
to the north-east, which soon grew larger and more distinct, and 
proved to be the beautiful mountain range of Kara-tau, which 
with its branches extends beyond Tashkent. The summits were 
still covered with snow, and after so much barren and arid 
steppe this was a most beautiful feature of the landscape. 

The Steppe was now covered with flowers of all kinds, 
especially scarlet poppies, wild tulips, geraniums, and many 
cruciferous and leguminous plants. It frequently became 
necessary to cross the beds of small streams which came down 
from the mountains, and in many of these there was considerable 
water. The whole of this region shows traces of ancient 
cultivation, and it is evident that a very large population at 
one time existed here. In various parts there are mounds, now 
covered with growths of saksaul and other shrubs, which are 
evidently the ruins of former cities. There is an old legend 
that the whole valley of the Syr Darya was at one time so 
thickly settled that a nightingale could fly from, branch to 
branch of the fruit-trees, and a cat walk from wall to wall and 
housetop to housetop, from Kashgar to the Sea of Aral. 
From the traces of former culture one can in part believe 
*this. We know, indeed, from history that the banks of this 

F 2 


part of the river had numerous large and flourishing towns, 
noticeable among which were Otrar, Sauran, Jend, and Jany- 
Kend. The ruins of Jany-Kend ( Yany-Kend, or ' New Town,') 
are placed by Lerch and other investigators some sixteen miles 
below Kazala. Several of the mounds which compose these 
ruins have been opened, and various articles of pottery and 
household ware have been found there, but nothing which 
could enable the age of the ruins to be ascertained. 

I came to the ruins of Sauran the next morning, passing 
several large forts and ruined towns which, like Saganak, had 
apparently been abandoned in recent times. The ruins of 
Sauran itself lie at some distance from the post-station, so that 
I was unable to visit them. They were noted a few years ago 
for containing two tall brick towers or minarets of very graceful 
construction, having spiral staircases within. One of these fell 
some years ago ; and as the other was greatly injured by the 
Kirghiz, it is now probably also in ruins. 

On the opposite side of the Syr Darya stretches the great 
waste called the Kyzyl-Kum, or ' Red Sands.' One great arm of 
this desert extends from Fort No. 1 southward along the Sea of 
Aral to the Bukan mountains, even touching the Amu-Darya 
in several places opposite to Khiv^a. Along the Jany-Darya 
4here are places where the desert gradually dies out into an 
ordinary waste steppe, and along the left bank of the Syr 
Darya from Tchardara to Julek there is also a clayey steppe, 
in places even cultivable, and filled with the ruins of ancient 

On the south the desert is bounded by the Famished Steppe 
between Tchinaz and Jizakh, and by the low ranges of hills, 
where are the wells Aristan-bel-kuduk, Tamdy, &c, nearly to 
the Bukan-tau. Through an opening in the mountains an arm 
of the desert called Jaman Kyzyl, or Bad Red Sand — for it is 
the very worst part of the desert — reaches the Amu Darya, and 
extends along it from Montchakli to the south of Bukhara even. 
This desert is constantly extending itself to the southward 
under the influence of the north and north-east winds, which 
blow almost without cessation. During the three months' stay 
of the Russian Expedition in the desert in 1872 there were but 
three days when the wind was not from the north-east. 

The Kyzy.-Kum does not. however, consist entirely of 

THE KY7 4 YL-KUM. 69 

bare and shifting sand, but is full of small hillocks covered 
with vegetation of various kinds, especially saksaul and other 
similar shrubs which can be used as fuel, and among the 
herbs there are very many of the ferulaceous order, espe 
cially the three from which are obtained the gums asafcetida, 
ammoniac, and galbanum. Among the rocks contained in 
the mountains are limestone, marble of a bad quality, flint, 
and slate ; and there are numerous traces of iron, which even 
tinges the hillocks of sand with an orange-red colour, and has 
without doubt given the name to the desert. The Kyzyl 
Kum is intersected with caravan-roads, the most of which, 
running north and south, were formerly — and are now to some 
extent — the main ways of communication between Northern 
Asia, and Khiva and Bukhara. Along the roads there are 
numerous wells ; in fact, without these it would be impos- 
sible for human beings to live there. In winter especially the 
Kyzyl-Kum is inhabited by numerous Kirghiz, who wander 
there from the steppes on the right side of the Syr Darya, 
crossing on the ice in autumn, and returning in the spring 
before the ice breaks up, or afterwards on rafts or bridges of 
reeds. Water is obtained from very small basins produced by 
the melting snows, which last only for a few weeks, from 
natural springs which form large basins, either open or under- 
ground, and from artificial wells. These last are from six to a 
hundred feet deep, much larger at the bottom than at the top, 
and often built up for a half or a quarter of their depth with 
limestone or sandstone or the hard wood of the saksaul. The 
Kirghiz who has dug a well — and he knows where to dig it, from 
the abundance of the plant called adrasban or hazorasband 
(Peganum Harmalci) — considers it as his special property, and 
is careful to prevent other wandering Kirghiz from settling 
near by. In some cases the water is excellent, but in most of the 
wells it is salt, sometimes slightly so, at others thoroughly 
impregnated with Glauber's or other mineral salts. It fre- 
quently happens that the well when first dug will contain pure 
water, . but in the course of a few days, or even a few hours, 
this will become bitter and undrinkable, from dissolving out 
the salts which are contained in the earthy sides. 

At the station before Sauran I left the banks of the Syr 
P?rva, and from here to Tashkent the road lies at some dis- 


tance from the river. It was with great delight that id 
Friday afternoon I saw what at first seemed a black spot, but 
soon turned out to be thick groves of dark green trees, looking 
darker and richer by contrast with the Steppe around them. 
These were the groves and orchards which surround the city of 
Turkistan, and it was not long before I forded the river, and 
passed along narrow lanes between high clay walls, over which 
I saw branches of apricot trees, and occasionally the faces of 
little boys and girls looking with curiosity at the equipage, till, 
making a circuit of the town and fort, above which rose the 
immense vault of a splendid mosque, I came to the post- 
station. A short walk through the deep ditch or ravine which 
surrounds the ruined walls of the citadel, where soldiers and 
natives were making clay bricks, brought me to the famous 
mosque over the tomb of Hazret Hodja Akhmed Yasavi. The 
construction of this mosque was begun by Timur in 1397, who 
went on a pilgrimage to Turkistan, or Yassy, as it was then 
called, while waiting for his new bride, Tukel-Khanym. 
Sheikh Akhmed Yasavi, who was the founder of the sect Jahria, 
and died about 1120, is one of the most celebrated saints of 
Central Asia, and is the especial patron of the Kirghiz. The 
mausoleum is an immense building, crowned by a huge dome, 
and having annexed to the rear another small mosque, with 
a melon-shaped dome. The front consists of an immense 
arched portal, at least a hundred feet high, flanked by two 
round windowless towers with crenelated tops, which reminded 
me in some indefinite way of the front of Peterborough Cathedral. 
In the archway there is a large double door of finely carved 
wood, and over this a small oriel window, dating from the last 
reconstruction by Abdullah Khan. The walls are o^ large 
square-pressed bricks, well burnt, and carefully laid together. 
Only the rear and side still bear the mosaic facings of enamelled 
tiles, though in a very injured condition. The blue tiles 
which covered the dome have nearly all fallen off, and of the 
inscriptions in large Cufic letters which surround it only the 
end can now be deciphered. It reads thus : < The work of 
Hodja Hussein, a native of the City Shiraz.' Similar inscrip- 
tions — gigantic ornamental texts from the Koran, in blue on a 
white ground — run round the frieze, and the building, which is 
still grand in its decay, was evidently once wondronsdy beau- 


tiful Earthquakes and despoilers have ruined it, leaving 
large cracks, now filled up in many places with coarse plaster. 
The front was apparently never completed, for the old beams, 
which once served as a scaffolding, remain standing in the 
walls, occupied now by immense storks' nests. These birds, 
which seem to be regarded with reverence, are frequently 
seen perched on one leg upon the top of Mussulman mosques. 
In the middle of the mosque is an enormous hall, under 
the lofty dome which rises to a height of over a hundred 
feet, and is richly ornamented within with alabaster work in the 
style common in Moorish buildings, and especially seen in the 
Alhambra. On the right and left are rooms filled with tombs 
of various Kirghiz Sultans of the Middle and Lesser Hordes, 
among them the celebrated Ablai Khan. One room answers 
for a mosque, where the Friday prayers alone are said, while 
under the small dome at the back of the building are the tombs 
of Akhmed Yasavi and his family ; and opening out of a long- 
corridor full of tombs is a large room with a sacred well. Next 
to the tomb of the saint the most interesting monuments are 
those erected to a great-granddaughter of Timur, Rabiga-Sultan- 
Begim, daughter of the famous Ulug-Bek. She was married to 
Abul Kheir-Khan, and died in 1485. One of her sons lies next 
to her. 

The walls of the first room are covered with numbers of 
inscriptions, chiefly short prayers, or verses from the Koran, 
one of which is said to have been written by Mohammed Ali 
Khan of Khokand, who was killed by the Amir of Bokhara, in 
1842 ; and in the middle, standing on a pedestal, there is a large 
brass vessel like a kettle, which would contain at least fifty 
gallons of water, for the use of the persons who live in the 
mosque and the pilgrims and students who come there. It is 
said to have been cast at Tchurnak, now in ruins, about fifty 
miles from Turkistan. Around this vessel there are several lines 
of Arabic inscriptions, in different characters ; the first and 
longest reads : ' The highest and Almighty God said, " Do ye 
place those bearing water to pilgrims and visiting the sacred 
temple." ' He (i.e. the Prophet) said, " May peace be on him ! 

1 The beginning of this inscription is part of the nineteenth verse of the ninth 
Sura of the Koran, speaking of unbelievers, and should be followed by inserting 
after the word ' temple,' ' on the same level with him who believeth in God and 


Whoso sets a vessel of water for the sake of God, the Highest, 
him will God the Highest reward doubly in Paradise. By 
command of the great Amir, the ruler of nations chosen by the 
care of the most merciful God, the Amir Timur Gurgan. May 
God prolong his reign ! V This water-vessel was made for the 
tomb of the Sheikh-ul- Islam, chief of all Sheikhs in the world, 
the Sheikh Akhmed of Yassy. May God give repose to his 
worthy soul ! The twelfth of Shavval, in the year 801 (1399).' 
The other inscription is : ' The work of the servant, striving 
God ward, the Abul-aziz, son of the master Sheref-uddin, native 
of Tabriz.' 

There are besides in the mosque four large candlesticks, 
but the inscriptions are so defaced that one can only read the 
name of Timur, and that of the maker, a Persian from Ispahan, 
with the date 799 (1397). The Sheikh-uL-Islam has several 
documents from various rulers of Central Asia in whose pos- 
session Turkistan has been, conferring privileges on the shrine, 
one of them of the year 1591, signed by Abdullah-Khan. 

This mosque is considered the holiest in all Central Asia, and 
had very great religious importance, as previous to the capture 
of the city by the Eussians pilgrims of all ranks, even khans 
and amirs, assembled there from all quarters. 

Being in the citadel, it served as a point of defence, and its 
bastions and minarets were mounted with guns. In order to 
hasten the fall of the city the Eussian artillery was ordered to 
destroy it, and did considerable damage, the balls leaving their 
marks in many places. It is probable that this ancient monu- 
ment would have been entirely ruined had it not been that the 
Sheikh -ul-I slam mounted the minaret and showed the white 
flag, which was the precursor of the surrender. 

The mosque is entirely supported by property which has 
been given to it by various worshippers, including the revenues 
from several caravanserais and shops in the city, and very large 
amounts from land. Before the capture of the city the Khan 
of Khokand used to send 500 tillas a year, and even now 
pilgrims are in the habit of offering sheep every Friday, the 
meat of which is distributed to the poor of the city. 

In the little enclosure in front of the portal are numerous 

the last day, and fighteth on the way of God ? They shall not be held equal by 
God : and God guideth not the unrighteous. 


tombs bearing inscriptions, and in a corner of the large court- 
yard is a small and very elegant mosque, with a melon-shaped 
cupola, covered with blue tiles. The local legend runs that this 
was the temporary resting-place of the body of Rabiga-Begim, 
whose early death caused Timur such grief that he built the 
great mosque. Unfortunately history shows that she died 
some eighty years after him, and it was very doubtful if he ever 
saw her. 

The termination of the great mosque called Hazret was 
almost contemporaneous with Timur's death. The word Hazret) 
an Arabic word, meaning literally ' presence,' is used in the 
sense of ' majesty ' for rulers, and with the meaning ' sanctity' 
is frequently applied to saints, especially to those most reve- 
renced, and in this case the celebrity of the saint has even given 
a name to the town, which is often called ' Hazreti-Turkistan,' 
or even simply ' Hazret.' 

Besides the mosque there is little in Turkistan to interest 
one. The city has much fallen ofT, and now barely numbers 
6,000 souls. Everything looks dilapidated and desolate, though 
I found the straggling bazaar very curious, as it was the first 
really genuine Oriental bazaar which I had seen, that at 
Perovsky being half-Russian. 

I wandered for a long time, in spite of the heat, past the 
little rows of shops, looking at the silversmiths plying their 
trades, and seeing the general idleness and listlessness of the 
shopkeepers, for there seemed almost no business going on. The 
central point of interest was a raised platform, where stood a 
man with a little mountain of snow, which he was dealing out 
to the little boys in small portions, with a sauce of sugary syrup. 
The eyes of the boys were big and greedy, yet their timidity or 
their hatred of a Kaffir was such that I had some difficulty in 
inducing them to allow me to treat them. 

Leaving Turkistan at seven o'clock in the evening, with good 
horses and good roads, I arrived at Ikan, a town of considerable 
size, though much ruined, which, on December 16, 17, and 18, 
1864, was the scene of a most heroic contest on the part of a 
small body of Russian soldiers. After the capture of Tchimkent, 
Alim Kul and the Khokandians raised a large body of troops 
and resolved to attempt the recapture of Turkistan the Holy. 
There were numerous messengers announcing the approach of 


this army, and especially one asking for aid sent by the inhabi- 
tants of Ikan, who had preferred to remain under Eussian pro- 
tection, and Captain Serof with a sotnia of Cossacks and one 
gun was sent out to Ikan. When near that place he became 
entirely surrounded by large masses of the enemy, and found it 
impossible either to advance or retire ; and from the evening of 
the 16th until that of the 18th, without tasting food, these 
brave Cossacks defended themselves against the overwhelming 
forces of the enemy ; and then, having spiked their gun, the 
little remnant made a sortie, and bleeding and breathless joined 
the Eussian forces, which were standing three miles from 
Turkistan. The Eussians lost in all fifty-seven killed and forty- 
three wounded. 

A small force had just been sent out from Turkistan, but 
on seeing the enemy they immediately retreated ; and though 
the firing was continually audible at Turkistan, no other effort 
was made to relieve the detachment, the time being passed in 
councils of war and debate. In consequence of this affair the 
commander of Turkistan was subsequently compelled to leave 
the army. 

The Khokandians lost many in this desperate fight, and 
were astonished at the bravery and perseverance of the 
Eussians, not only at their refusing to surrender, but at their 
refusing to accept the terms they offered, which were an 
honourable and safe retreat to the main detachment at 
Turkistan. This was told me by the man who was sent by 
Alim Kul to carry on negotiations with Serof. 

From Turkistan to Tchimkent, 100 miles or more, the road 
goes through a very pretty country, the Steppe being rich in 
verdure and flowers, and constantly rising and falling, owing 
to the nearness of the mountains. A number of torrents had 
to be traversed, and two of these, the Bugun and Arys, were 
especially difficult. At the latter it became necessary to unload • 
entirely the tarantas, and place all the luggage on a large 
native cart, as the current was very swift and the water far 
above the floor of the carriage. In crossing one of these 
mountain ravines the driver locked the wheel of the tarantas 
in such a careless manner that two spokes were at once taken 
out, and I began to fear that I would find it difficult to reach 
Tashkent or even Tchimkent, but after thoroughly lacing up the 

tchimkp:nt. 75 

wheel with rope, the tarantas was still strong enough to 

The town of Tchimkent, 1 which I reached on the next even- 
ing after leaving Turkistan, presents nothing remarkable except 
the picturesque citadel, which is built on what seems an almost 
inaccessible height. The new bazaar, with its ponds and well- 
built shops, which has been constructed by the Eussians, shows 
that the town is still flourishing. The occupation both of 
Turkistan and of Tchimkent was, as is well known, in pursuance 
of a plan made as long ago as 1854 for the formation of a 
fortified line which would connect the line of Orenburg with 
that of Siberia, and thus completely protect the Kirghiz. The 
first intention was to have this line run to the north of the 
Kara-tau range, but on the representations of the local com- 
manders the plan was modified. During and just after the 
Crimean war it was impossible to take active measures in the 
Steppe, and it was not until 1864 that Colonel (now Major- 
Greneral) — Tchernaief, with 2,500 men from Siberia, and 
Colonel (now Lieutenant-General) Verevkin, with 1,200 men 
from Orenburg, were sent to carry out this plan. Turkistan was 
taken in June, about the same time as Aulie-ata, while it was 
not until October that Tchimkent was stormed. I am told that 
the successful assault was owing to a ludicrous mistake. In the 
first outset one of the soldiers was slightly wounded and cried 
out for the surgeon — ' Dok-tu-ra ! ' His comrades heard only 
' u-ra ! ' — the Kussian ' Hurrah,' rushed forward, pressing the 
enemy before them, and within an hour had full possession of 
vhe citadel, with only five men killed. It is said that the 
bazaar was sacked and many of the inhabitants massacred ; if 
so, this was an exceptional case, for the Eussian movements in 
Central Asia have been marked by great discipline and humanity. 

1 The name Tchimkent is derived by the natives from the Turki tckim, turf, and 
the Persian kent, town, like many other local names taken from the two languages. 
Lerch considers it a corruption of Tcheshmkent, fountain-town, and identifies it 
with the ancient Isbyjab. I may remark here that the terminations kent and 
kand are the same, kent being used when the vowels of the first part of the word 
are i or e, and kand when they are a, o, or u, as in Khokand, Yarkand, Samarkand. 
Tashkent as thus written is improper, but as it is sanctioned by usage, and the 
town is now Russian, I keep to it. The natives say ' Tashkand.' 




First Impressions — Similarity to American towns — Kapid growth — Houses 
— Garden of Governor-General — The Church — Earthquakes — Hotels and 
fare — The Club — Ming Uruk — Society — The Governor-General's State — 
Rigid etiquette at his balls — Bad tone — Cliques — Ignorance of the 
country displayed by officials— The ' Central Asiatic Society' — Jura Bek 
— Baba Bek — A nephew of the Amir of Bukhara — Alim Hadji Yunusof — 
A Court doitor — Murder of Malla Khan — A political execution in Buk- 
hara — The mercantile community — Said Azim — The native town— Mills 
— Walls — Population — Sarts — Tadjiks — Uzbeks — Their characteristics — 
Arabs — History of Tashkent — Its capture by General Tchernaief — His 
first proclamation. 

As 1 sat in the porch in the bright moonlight, the first night 
of my arrival at Tashkent, I could scarcely believe that I wag 
in Central Asia, but seemed rather to be in one of the quiet 
little towns of Central New York. The broad dusty streets, 
shaded by double rows of trees ; the sound of rippling water in 
every direction ; the small white houses, set a little back from 
the streets, with trees and a palisade in front ; the large square, 
full of turf and flowers, with a little church in the middle — all 
combined to give me this familiar impression. By daylight, 
however, Tashkent seems more like one of the Western American 
towns — Denver, for instance, though lacking in the busy air 
which pervades that place, and with Sarts, in turbans and gowns, 
in place of Indians and miners. The conditions of the town 
are, indeed, much the same ; it is built on the Steppe, and owes 
its green and fresh appearance to the canals, which bring 
streams of fresh water through every street. The sides of the 
streets are planted with poplars and willows, which in this 
country grow quickly and luxuriantly ; a small stake driven 
into the ground soon becomes a fine tree ; gardens spring up 
almost like magic ; and I saw in the garden of a laboratory a 
peach tree bearing peaches the third year from the seed 


There are about 600 houses in Tashkent — I speak of the 
Eussian town — and a population of 3,000, exclusive of the 
garrison of about 6,000. New houses and streets are every- 
where springing up, and the growth of the city in the nine 
years of its existence seems something really wonderful. Still 
when one comes to examine into the matter there is something 
artificial in all this ; the real, permanent population of the city 
is small, for trade is not great, manufactories do not exist, and, 
with the exception of the merchants, no one lives here who is 
not obliged to do so on account of his official duties. No one 
comes to Tashkent to remain, which distinguishes it from 
similar American towns, and most of these pretty houses have 
been built on money loaned by the Government, of which, by 
the way, but little is ever repaid. 

The houses are in general built of sun-dried clay bricks, 
covered with plaster, and washed with some light colour, and 
are seldom more than one story high. Owing to the scarcity 
of wood and the dearness of iron, the roofs are very peculiar ; 
between the rafters which compose the ceilings pieces of small 
willow-branches are closely fitted together, the whole is then 
thatched with reeds, and on this is placed a layer of clay and 
sods, it being necessary to put on a new layer of clay every 
year to render the roof in any degree waterproof. During the 
summer, when it does not rain, these roofs are excellent, and 
very pretty, as they are often covered with wild poppies, 
capers, and other flowers. When the rainy autumn season 
commences one must be very careful : it may be that too many 
layers of clay have been placed on the roof, and the timbers 
have become worn, so that the whole thing falls through ; or 
perhaps not enough clay has been put on, and one violent rain- 
storm is sufficient to wash a large hole in it. 

Furniture and household goods of all kinds have to be 
brought from Russia or Siberia, for there are no cabinet- 
makers or upholsterers in Central Asia, and simplicity is there- 
fore the rule. Still the houses are comfortable in spite of their 
fragility, and the great wide divans, the profusion of Turkoman 
carpets, the embroidered cushions, and the display of Eastern 
weapons, armour, and utensils give them an air of elegance and 

During the summer all who can afford it leave their town 


houses and remove to one of the numerous gardens in the 
suburbs, where they either have a small house of a similar kind 
or live in Kirghiz hibitkas. Nothing can be more delightful 
than this. The heat does not penetrate through the thick elms 
and poplars ; a freshness constantly exhales from the square 
pond and from the canals which water the garden, mixed with 
the perfume of roses and syringas. The kibitka is spacious and 
comfortable ; and if to this is added a Bukharan pavilion-tent, 
with its embroidered and variegated walls, for a salon, the 
abode is charming. When at night the paper lanterns stand 
out against the dark green of the pomegranates, while the 
nightingale sings as the light shimmers over the still surface of 
the water, it is a scene taken bodily from the ' Arabian Nights.' 

The palace of the Grovernor-Greneral is by far the best 
building in Tashkent, being very large, and covered with an 
iron roof. It is situated in an immense garden, which has been 
very prettily laid out with hills, trees, flowers, ponds, canals, 
and even cascades, and here, three evenings in a week, the 
military band plays, and the gardens are thrown open 
to the public. They are then the rendezvous of all the 
Eussians, and much of the native population of the place, for 
the Sarts are attracted by the band, which occasionally plays 
native airs. Near by the palace of the Grovernor-Greneral is a 
large new fort, not yet entirely finished, intended for the pro- 
tection of the city. This fort is mounted with heavy cannon, 
and has a large garrison, though many of the troops are 
quartered in different barracks, and during the summer are in 
the camp near the town. 

There are, of course, the usual number of public buildings 
for Government offices, without which no Eussian town can 
possibly exist ; and there is the little church, in addition to 
which the foundations of a large stone cathedral have been laid. 
This seems almost a warte of money in a place where are so 
few Eussians, and where missionaries are forbidden. The 
church is quite large enough for present wants, and is some- 
what out of repair, a negligence which astonishes the pious 
Mussulmans, who are also shocked that so few Eussians attend 
church regularly. As their own religion is not attacked, the 
natives treat the church with reverence, though they call it 
I ud-LIttmeh, idol (Buddha) house, and the more liberal and 


curious spirits sometimes are attracted by the *er vices. The 
building of this cathedral is looked on as a dangerous experi- 
ment, on account of the earthquakes, though they are not fre- 
quent, and it is several years since there was a severe one. I 
looked for one with some curiosity, being anxious to experience 
a new sensation ; but alas ! when it came I slept soundly, and 
did not hear of it until breakfast-time. There were three 
shocks, about five o'clock in the morning, severe enough to make 
the walls tremble and the pictures swing outwards, and even 
small objects were thrown down. 

There is not in Tashkent what can be called an hotel, 
though there are one or two places, such as Gromof's, where 
there are furnished rooms and some provision for meals, but 
they are dirty and uncomfortable. There is a fair restaurant, 
kept by a Pole, Grizhitzky, which has one or two rooms to be. 
let out to sojourners. I was not, however, entirely dependent 
on it, for owing to my fortunate rencontre at Julek I received 
quarters in a private house, where I was treated with all kind- 
ness and hospitality. Fare in Tashkent is much the same as in 
any other Russian town, and if there exists there any local 
delicacy or any new undeveloped possibility the Russians have 
not yet discovered it. Beef was scarce and bad, but mutton 
was plentiful, cheap, and delicious. At first the colonists com- 
plained of a scarcity of potatoes, but where Russian soldiers live 
their cabbages soon grow, and there is now plenty of all the 
usual vegetables. Grame is abundant, but fish is very rare ; for 
the Syr Darya, where sturgeon abound, is still unfished. Ex- 
cellent fruit and melons of all kinds are to be had almost for 
the asking, but I heard complaints of the difficulty of raising 
rye, and the consequent scarcity of black bread. Wine is of 
course to be had at about four times St. Petersburg prices, and 
one can even get Euglish ale and porter — the latter is a special 
favourite — at about ten shillings a bottle. A very bad beer is 
brewed there, and several kinds of native wines are made, but 
all strong and sour. With time and experience good wine will 
doubtless be made in such a climate, and with such profusion 
of good grapes. 

Of course there is a club, as stupid and unclublike as all 
Russian clubs. A bad dinner can be had there every day, and 
men occasionally drop in to read the newspapers when the mail 


arrives or to play at billiards ; but as a general rule people 
reserve themselves for the social evenings during the winter, 
when the large ball-room is open and there is a dance or 
concert. There is now attached to the rooms of the club an 
excellent library, which was originally collected for the Chan- 
cellery of the Governor-General, and has since that time been 
enlarged by gifts from other persons. It contains now aJbout 
4,000 volumes, including the standard works of Russian, Freti#i, 
and German literature, and an exceedingly good collection of 
books and articles relating to Central Asia. 

Among the other institutions of the place I should mention 
the Chemical Laboratory, which is mounted on a far better 
and more costly scale than seems warranted by the necessities 
of the country ; and the ' Turkistan Gazette.' This is a small 
weekly journal, containing besides official matter articles on 
the history, ethnology, and statistics of the country, which are 
often very interesting and valuable. Of news from the rest 
of the world there is nothing whatever, and even the current 
events of Central Asia are rarely mentioned, except in extracts 
from the newspapers of St. Petersburg and Moscow. It has 
only about 300 subscribers, and costs the Government some 
22,000 rubles a year, or 37 kopeks a copy. While thankful for 
many of the articles contained in the ' Gazette,' I sometimes 
wonder at its existence. A supplement in Turki is published 
for the spread of literature among the natives, but when I was 
in Tashkent its contents were chiefly drawn from the tales of 
the ' Arabian Nights.' Just outside of the town, on the east, ir 
the direction of the fair, is a large garden, known by the name 
of Ming-uruk (or the thousand apricot trees), which was formerly 
the evening promenade of the place. As its name implies, it is 
a large orchard of apricot trees, most of them very large and 
extremely old, surrounded by a high clay wall. The very day I 
arrived a festival was held there, with the usual accompaniment 
of lottery allegri, and the green sward and the wide paths were 
covered with loungers and promenaders. A temporary restaurant 
was also put up, and in various tents and pavilions the ladies 
of Tashkent distributed the little lottery-tickets at twenty kopeks 
apiece, perhaps one in 2,000 drawing some slight prize. The 
natives take very kindly to this form of gambling, and it has 
been noticed of late that the chief revenue of such little 


charitable lotteries is derived from the Sart population, who 
are eager to have this chance of possibly winning something 
without more exertion than drawing the little rolls of paper 
from the glass urn, slipping off the wire ring, and unrolling 
them. The word allegri on the ticket always marks a blank, 
while a number indicates a prize. Now that the Governor- 
General's garden is open so often the Ming-uruk has somewhat 
fallen into disrepute, and the good roads and introduction of 
droshkies and carriages have to a certain degree stopped horse- 
back exercise ; but three years ago vehicles were scarce and 
the mud was deep, so that all men and women were constantly 
on horseback. Now few but officers and natives ride, and even 
natives are sometimes to be seen in droshkies — struck with the 
charm of civilisation. 

During my stay in Central Asia I considered Tashkent my 
head-quarters, and was there for more or less time at four 
different periods. Fortunately perhaps for me, the magnates 
of the Eussian official world were all on the Khivan expedition, 
and I was thus cut off from the higher official society. Among 
those who remained I found some very pleasant acquaintances, 
though I was received at first with perhaps a shade of sus- 
picion. I had sent on my letters of introduction to General 
Kaufmann, at the head-quarters of the expedition, and arrived 
in Tashkent with no recommendations to the officials there. 
Still, even before the approval of my visit by General Kaufmann 
arrived, the idea that I might be an English spy in disguise 
had, I think, worn off, and my relations with the authorities 
were most pleasant. After the arrival of General Kolpakofsky 
from Vierny, as the acting Governor-General, I was treated 
with still greater politeness, and was enabled to carry out all 
my plans. Still, out of mere curiosity, perhaps, I regret not 
having seen the life of the little court — for it is really nothing 
else — that ordinarily goes on at Tashkent. The Governor- 
General or Yarim Padshah (the half-king), as he is called, 
imitates in the state he keeps the Eastern monarchs by whom he 
is surrounded. He never rides out, so I am told, without a select 
guard of Cossacks, and even his wife and children had their 
escorts. These I believe were abolished after the unfortunate 
remark of some newly-arrived officer, who innocently enquired 
what lady that was under arrest. The Governor-General rarely 
vol. I. G 


goes out in society, but does his part by giving two or thre« 
balls during the course of the winter, to which the leading 
natives as well as the Russians are invited. These must be 
very amusing affairs. The guests are obliged to arrive punc- 
tually at the moment, as at the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg, 
and they are kept waiting for perhaps an hour until the 
Governor-General, his wife, and suite enter the room, and are 
received by deep bows and curtseys. Before this it is im- 
possible for dancing to begin, and even then etiquette is so 
much stricter than at St. Petersburg, that no gentleman is 
allowed to sit down in the presence of the Governor-General. 
The poor unfortunate who should do so would at once receive 
from an aide-de-camp a strong hint to rise. Should the 
Governor-General be seen shaking a person warmly by the 
hand or conversing with him for five or ten minutes, the man 
so honoured immediately becomes a figure in society, and is 
considered necessarily a rising man and one of great influence. 
Such is the effect of court favour. 

When the Governor-General returns to Tashkent triumphal 
arches are erected, all the officials go several miles out of the 
city to meet him, and he is received with salutes of cannon. 
When a branch of the Control Department was founded at 
Tashkent it was found that there was no law authorizing these 
salutes, and a request was made that the money expended for 
the powder fired should be returned to the Treasury. The 
money was paid, but the salutes continue, though not at 
Government cost. The triumphal arches and the reception. > 
are supposed to be the outspoken expression of popular feeling, 
but these demonstrations are hardly spontaneous. When Khiva 
was taken a meeting was called to devise a means of com- 
memorating the victory. Some proposed a permanent triumphal 
arch, others a scholarship of the Oriental languages — to be 
named after the Governor-General — in some university. It was 
finally decided to do both. The money was to be raised by 
voluntary subscriptions, but all the officers and officials, even 
in other parts of Turkistan, received an official paper from 
their superiors asking for their contributions, which few dared 

Besides the Governor-General there are the military 
governor and the vice-governor,' and a staff of generals and 



other grand officials, for this being a little capital there must 
be in every department a central administration mounted on a 
large scale. The wives and families of these chiefs of the 
official hierarchy consider themselves as the sommites of 
society, and vastly superior to the other ladies of the place, for 
it must not be thought that Tashkent is destitute of ladies, 
most of the officers having brought their wives and families 
with them. Society is therefore divided into cliques and 
coteries, for though, with the exception of the highest officials, 
nearly everyone who is there has either come there to avoid 
his creditors or been sent away to keep out of some scrape, or 
has come on account of increased pay or the shorter time of 
service necessary before receiving a pension, or in the hope of 
making a rapid fortune, yet they all bring with them their 
St. Petersburg ideas. There is the same etiquette with regard 
to morning calls, full dress, and other customs of society 
that prevails in the larger Kussian towns. People meet, it is 
true, at the soirees or private theatricals, which are occasionally 
given at the club, or at the Grovernor-Greneral's palace, but 
each coterie keeps apart from the others, and there is nothing 
like real general social life. These absurd divisions in such a 
small society, and the fact that Tashkent is looked upon as a 
temporary place of exile, are very bad for the younger officers 
and officials. There being few amusements, society being dull 
and broken up, and their scientific and literary pursuits dis- 
couraged or at least not encouraged, the officers have little 
resource but gambling and drinking, and in many instances 
young men have utterly ruined themselves, some even having 
to be sent out of the country — and a man must be bad to be 
exiled from Tashkent — and others having died or committed 
suicide. A Eussian writer of growing repute, Mr. Karazin, 
formerly an officer in Central Asia, has given a good picture of 
Tashkent in his novel * In the Distant Confines.' I know that 
this book is looked upon as a libel in Tashkent, but nearly 
every character is recognizable, and the tone of society as 
depicted there is, as nearly as I could gather the truth, exactly 
such as really existed there two or three years ago. There is 
now a little improvement. There is not so much of open 
debauchery and dissipation as then, but the same general tone 
prevails. Home is far away, public opinion is lenient or silent, 

n 2 


and many allow themselves liberties of conduct which elsewhere 
they would not imagine possible. 

I could not but be struck in the Russian society of Tashkent, 
not only with the want of knowledge of the country, but with 
the lack of interest in it which was manifested, and it seemed 
to many difficult to understand how I could be interested in a 
country, and come so far to see it, which for them was the 
epitome of everything disagreeable. Of course there were ex- 
ceptions to this, but I speak of the general impression. The 
number of Russians who know either Persian or Turki, or who 
care at all for the history, antiquities, or natural productions of 
the country, or who interest themselves in any way in the life 
of the people about them, is wonderfully small. A branch of 
the ' Society of Natural History and Anthropology ' was once 
started in Tashkent, and held its meetings at the house of the 
Governor-General ; but whether it was the incubus of official 
presence or the lack of real interest in the thing, it soon died 
out. 1 

The Tashkent branch of the c Society for the Encouragement 
of Russian Trade ' also leads a very lingering existence. 

A ' Central Asiatic Society ' was formed, but was forbidden 
by the authorities. 

The man in all Tashkent who interested himself the most 

about the natives was Mr. P . the agent of the Ministry of 

Finance. He had learned Turki perfectly, and spoke it with 
accuracy and elegance, and his house was the head-quarters of 
prominent natives. His wife also took great interest in the 

1 1 was told that when the Central Asiatic Society was started General Kauf- 
mann expressed a wish to become a member. It was then considered necessary to 
elect him the honorary president, and at his urgent request the meetings were held 

at his house. On one of these occasions Colonel R , one of the most active 

members of the society, appeared in the usual white linen undress uniform worn at 
Tashkent. When the meeting was over the Governor-General sent word to him 
through the police that it was not proper to come to the house of the Governor- 
General otherwise than in full uniform. At the next meeting of the society a letter was 

read from Colonel K , in which he informed the society — through its president 

— that he had been reprimanded by the Governor-General for not appearing in full 
uniform at one of its meetings, because it was at the house of the Governor-General. 
He stated that undress uniform was permitted at meetings of learned societies, and 
referred especially to the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, at St. Petersburg, 
of which the Grand Duke Constantine is President, where members dress as they 
please, and smoke even in his presence, and stated that under the circumstances he 
felt compelled to offer his resignation as a. member of the society. 


native population, and constantly visited them, and received 
visits from them. Apart from the friendship and kindness 

which I received from Mr. P and his agreeable family, I 

delighted to visit his house as often as possible, because I was 
sure at any hour of the day of meeting two or three natives 
whose stories or conversation were of great interest and value. 

Prominent among the habitues of this hospitable house 
were the various deposed Beks, and chiefly Jura Bek and Baba 
Bek, of Shahrisabs, a little province just south of Samarkand. 
The fathers of both of them had been prominent there before the 
country had been finally annexed to Bukhara by the bloodthirsty 
Nasrullah. After the death of his father Kalentar Bek, Jura 
was taken into the service of the Amir as one of the youths in 
waiting, where he remained until the death of the Amir in 1860, 
when he escaped to Shahrisabs. Six months after the death of 
Nasrullah the new Amir, his son, Mozaffar- eddin, went from 
Samarkand to Shahrisabs. The presence of Mozaffar could 
awake no sympathy in such a purely Uzbek place. Unsociable 
by nature, fat and lazy, already known and detested as a 
dissolute man, the Amir rode in, a strong contrast to his father, 
amidst the laughter of the population, who were accustomed to 
a certain degree of freedom. On that very night he demanded 
the sister of Baba Bek, who had once before been forced in a 
similar way to serve the passions of his father. This could not 
remain concealed, and on the next day there were crowds of 
people in the streets loudly crying out against the Amir. 
Being afraid of still greater publicity, and perhaps rebellion, 
Mozaffar immediately returned to Bukhara, but he did not forget 
Shahrisabs. Many important personages were seized and im- 
prisoned, but they were released by the populace, now fully 
aroused, and Jura Bek, then about twenty years old, was elected 
the Bek of Kitab, one of the twin cities. He succeeded in ex- 
pelling the officials of the Bukharan Amir, and in connection 
with Baba Bek, who succeeded his father, maintained the inde- 
pendence of his little valley until August 1870, when Shahrisabs 
was taken by the Eussians and delivered up to the Amir. He 
and Baba Bek then escaped to Khokand, but were treacherously 
delivered up by Khudayar Khan, who bore an old grudge against 
Jura Bek for laughing at him and calling him an old woman when 
he was once complaining to the Amir Nasrullah of his troubles 


and his exile. Brought as prisoners to Tashkent, they lived taere 
for some time under surveillance ; but finally obtaining pensions 
of about 2,000 rubles a year from the Bukharan Government, 
through the agency of the Russians, they now reside there un- 
molested, although, owing to the irregularity of the payments, 
they are sometimes reduced to great straits, as they both have 
large families. Jura Bek has become thoroughly convinced 
that the Russians are and are to be the masters of Central 
Asia, and sees that any chance for him in the future must come 
from them. His allegiance to them therefore is unwavering ; 
and though cognizant of plots in the neighbouring countries — 
for he is occasionally appealed to by emissaries, as being of good 
judgment and experience— he does not fail to inform the 
Russians' of anything which may be hostile to their interests, 
and has refused to take part in anything against them, no 
matter how brilliant the inducements were. 1 He is one of few 
natives I have met — if not the only one — whose word I would 
implicitly trust on any subject. It is rare to find a Mussulman 
and an Asiatic of such delicacy of mind and feeling, such an 
appreciation of what is due to himself and others, and of such 
an aristocratic bearing in every look and movement. Jura Bek 
is a tall handsome Uzbek, with a thin dark beard, pleasant gray 
eyes, and a serious face. His dress is always very simple, but 
exquisitely neat, and there is something about the sadness of 
his expression and the suave grace of his gestures which never 
fails to attract and to interest. He is indeed a perfect gentle- 
man. He is a strict Mussulman, but he has now been suffi- 
ciently wdth the Russians to have lost all fanaticism, and to be 
willing to conform to many of their usages. He will associate 
with them, eat with them, and even, if he chooses, drink wine, 
having sufficient dignity to act as he pleases, never, as many 
others do, wearing one face to the Russians and another to his 
fellow-believers. Jura Bek is besides a good judge of character, 
has the politeness of Central Asia at his finger-ends, and is 
certainly not without ambition ; and therefore, as he is an 
honest and straightforward man, he might, if properly treated, 
be of the greatest service to Russia. Should it become neces- 
sary to overturn the Amir of Bukhara or the Khan of Khokand, 

1 The son of the Khan of Khokand, on his visit to Tashkent, tried in vain to 
bribe him ; and he first gave information of the attack on the station of Kara-sa. 



and place a vassal on the throne, no better person could be 
found in the interest either of the natives or of the Russians 
than Jura Bek, and his birth — for he comes from the noble 
family of Keninghez, one of the four whose hereditary duty it is 
to raise the Amir on his throne — would cause him to be accepted 
without a murmur by the population. 

Baba Bek, his companion in exile, is a man of much weaker 
stamp, a stout man of thirty-six, though looking twenty years 


older, so much have his troubles told on him, and is without 
either the ability or the courage of his companion. He passes 
his life quietly, and is so amiable that one cannot help pitying 
his downfall ; but he is not the kind of man that one would 
ever think of setting up again. 

As occasional visitors we had other deposed Beks, the petty 
rulers of the small districts of Kshtut and Farab, high up in the 
mountains near Samarkand, Shadi Bek and Seid Bek, 1 who are 

Hussein Bek, the Bek of Magi an, was, when caught, arbitrarily exiled to 
Siberia,, when still an independent ruler, he did not come to Samarkand 


now dependent on Eussian charity, and Abul-Gaflar Bek, the 
former Governor of Ura-tepe. Abul-Gaffar comes of a family 
that has held many high stations in the Bukharan service, and 
was for a long time the Bek of Ura-tepe, where he was very 
unpopular, as he was both unj jst and severe. He was at continual 
war with the mountain districts, and had the reputation of being 
a great coward, in spite of which he made a strong defence 
against the Kussians of the fortress he commanded. He after- 
wards had part of his property returned to him, and received in 
addition a small pension, on which he lives at Ura-tepe and 
Tashkent. He is an educated man, a Mullah, fond of talking 
and repeating verses, and evidently of a sociable disposition, as 
he has had twenty wives, and has ten grown sons, one of whom 
was formerly Bek of Zamin. One of his brothers was the brave 
Omar Bek, who fought against the Eussians at Jizakh, and was 
killed in 1872 by the Amir; and another is Ibodullah Bek, 
whom I sometimes saw, the former ruler of Hissar, an educated 
man, and well acquainted with the regions of the Upper Oxus. 

Seid Khan is a young man of about thirty-five, the son of a 
sister of the Amir Mozaffar-eddin, who escaped from Bukhara 
after the accession of that monarch, when his father, mother, 
and the whole of his family were put to death. He claims that 
his right to the throne is superior to that of the present Amir ; 
and were he as able as he is ambitious, he might easily overturn 
the Amir and set himself in his place, provided, of course, that 
the Eussians consented to such an arrangement. He is 
nominally in the Eussian service, and receives a pension of 
2,400 rubles a year, but dreams his time away, and wastes his 
money on dancing-boys and riotous living, so that he is always 
in debt. His long residence in Tashkent and his intercourse 
with Eussians of all kinds have taught him how to speak and 
write Eussian. Being of royal blood, he has his party in 
Bukhara, with whom he is in correspondence ; and in spite of 
his many defects he would perhaps make as good a figure-head 
as anyone else, although he has no head for plots ; and the letters 
of importance which he receives from persons even near to the 
Amir are often left for weeks unheeded. He has a way of 

to pay his respects to the Governor-General. Escaping from there, he was caught 
and sent back. His cousin, Mussa Bek, is now a leading official in Kashgar, aid 
very hostile to the Kussians. 


changing his residence every few weeks, which renders it some- 
what difficult to visit him ; and the last time that I saw 
him he greatly amused me by his belief that emissaries of 
his uncle were in Tashkent with designs upon his life, 
He sat on the floor, surrounded by weapons, and changed 
the position of his bed every night. His head was full 
of grand projects as to what he would do when he became Amir, 
of the certainty of which he seemed to have no doubt. He fre- 
quently used to come with a mysterious air and talk in a 
dark way about highly important letters he had received, about 
which he wanted advice, but which he had always forgotten to 
bring with him. Usually his visit terminated with a request 
for a slight loan. When I at last saw some of these letters, in 
whose existence I had begun to disbelieve, I found them really 
very interesting. One from the astrologist of the Amir began 
with Persian verses and stilted compliments, and at last said, 
* You know that the real owner of the estate where we live 
resides in Tashkent. Tell him that the steward who is here 
is very bad, and excites great discontent among the tenants. 
He must remove this steward ; if # he does not we shall do it our- 
selves, and ask you to come or choose another. He need not 
punish him, for it will be enough if he orders him to go live in 
Tashkent ; or should he come himself, the steward will be 
frightened and at once run away.' When we are told that the 
estate is Bukhara, the real owner General Kaufman n, and the 
steward the Amir, we can at once understand the parable, 
which was cleverly carried out to great length. Unfortunately 
for both tenants and owners, the same steward still remains. 

An amusing type of the native was the tall thin Mussa 
Mahomet Bii, who at the capture of Tashkent was acting as 
governor, and as such surrendered the place to the Kussians* 
He told me that his excitement and fear were so great that he 
galloped through the streets weeping violently and crying to all 
he met, c Bid farewell to your wives and children, for the 
Eussians have come.' 

The morning after the capture of Tashkent a deputation 
from the city came to wait upon General Tchernayef. He 
immediately sent for his interpreter, but to his astonishment 
the venerable leader of the deputation began to talk to him in 
pure Kussian, about science, philosophy, and the benefits of 


civilisation. He turned out to be a certain Alim Hadji 
Yunusof, a Tartar, from Penza, in South Russia, who had 
received his education at Moscow, and had been as a pilgrim to 
Mecca and through India. I saw a great deal of him in Tash- 
kent, and he was certainly one of the most striking characters I 
met. He was, I think, much more of a philosopher than a 
Mussulman, and was continually in search of new ideas of some 
kind. During the twenty years that he had lived in Tashkent 
under native rule he had lived quietly, attending to his gar- 
dens and cotton and silk-raising, and marrying one wife after 
another. He had tried nearly all the races procurable there, 
and shortly before my visit had married a young Persian. He 
was civilised enough to be willing to discuss family matters, 
and on one or two occasions I got a glimpse of some of his wives. 
Even here his idiosyncrasy showed out, and he told me in an 
apologetical tone of voice that his favourite wife had received 
her education among the Kirghiz, which was merely a polite 
way of saying she was a Kirghiz girl. Since the Russian 
occupation he has tried his hand at civilisation, has built 
houses, planted American cotton, established a soap factory, 
tried to introduce machines for spinning silk, and gins for 
cleaning cotton, but I fear that all these attempts were failures. 
His large house in the Eussian town is still unfinished, and his 
soap factory had already come to an untimely end before the 
silver medal he gained at the Moscow exhibition reached him. 
Still he kept on with his experiments. I well remember one 
visit I paid him in his garden just out of town. Persistent 
knocking at the little door brought the Hadji himself to let us 
in. He was attending to his plantations, and appeared in a 
long loose pink calico shirt, open at the throat and showing his 
bronzed muscular neck. Stroking his long grizzly beard, pulling 
down his sleeves, and tying a handkerchief about his waist, he 
led us through the vines and pomegranate trees to where a mat 
was spiead in the shade, where he regaled us with the choicest 
peaches and grapes, while he discoursed on the diseases of 
mulberry trees, and the consequent epidemic among the silk- 
worms, with many shrewd observations on botany and garden- 
ing. The Hadji reads a great deal ; his interests are world-wide, 
and his dabblings in science have brought him to be a member 
of several learned societies in Moscow and St. Petersburg. 


With all this he is a man of good heart and excellent sense, and 
a few more such would do much good in Tashkent. Unfor- 
tunately he is there no longer, as I shall tell farther on. 

Asudullah Bek was one of the well-known doctors of Tash- 
kent. I do not know at what medical institution he had taken 
his degree, for he was a Persian, born in the Caucasus, who had 
come to Central Asia early in life, and had always had a large 
practice. He had been the intimate friend of Alim Kul and 
Yakub KhaD, and doctor to various Khans of Khokand. He was 
not really a Bek, though he bore this appellation, which is 
sometimes given as a pet name, sometimes as a nickname. He 
spoke Eussian tolerably well, and was always glad to have a 
chat or take a hand in a game at cards, in which he was an 
adept. He had passed a very adventurous life ; and as he was a 
Persian and a heretic Shiite, he was not much loved by the 
orthodox Sunnites who surrounded him. I was always glad to 
see him, for he needed very little provocation to tell some of 
the episodes in Central Asiatic history with which he had been 
connected. When questioned as to why he ran away from the 
Caucasus, Asudullah Bek was very uncommunicative, though 
ready enough to talk about his later life. ' I came,' he said, 
1 to the city of Turkistan in 1 856, and lived there a year. At 
this time the Russians had come to Julek, and our army went 
there, and Batyr Bek was wounded. They asked for a doctor, 
and collected all the Bukharans and other men, but none 
pleased them. They then said, " There is a man from Roum ; 
you ought to call him." I had a shop at that time. They 
brought me to Batyr Bek, and I pleased him, for I was then 
very handsome, and without a beard. Khanayat Shah, the 
general of the army, said to me, " You must cure him in twelve 
days, or have your head cut off. Now the Khan is in Tashkent ; 
if you cure him we will take you there and present you to the 
Khan." Then I washed myself and prayed to God, for I was 
very fearful, as the people had treated me badly, because they 
had taken me for a spy of the Russians ; but I was given ten 
tillas, and was ordered to buy everything that was necessary. 
The wound of Batyr Bek was really very bad. The ball had 
gone into his mouth and out at his ear and knocked his teeth 
out. He could not eat, drink, or speak. I immediately washed 
him with hot water, and then put on a plaster of oil and roots, 


and fed him through a tube. After four days his tongue was 
better, and he opened his lips, moved his tongue, and began to 
talk. On the eighth day he was so much better that they gave 
me twelve tillas, and told me to wait in Tashkent while 
Khanayat Shah and Yakub Bek (the present ruler of Kashgar) 
went on ahead. After a week they sent for me. " Give him 
a man and a horse, and make him many compliments — the 
Khan has sent him a letter of invitation." In Tashkent 
I became acquainted with Alim Kul and Shah Murad Bek, 
the nephew of the Khan, for the Khan himself had gone to take 
Ura-tepe. When I was taken to Shah Murad Bek, I did as 
I had been taught, and took him by the hand and rubbed 
it over the whole of my face. He was pleased with me, for 
I was then handsome, and told me to live with Yakub Bek, 
where I stayed for two weeks. After that we went to Khokand, 
where I began to practise medicine, and was made the doctor 
of the Khan, and received one tilla (about eight shillings) a 
day.' From being the physician Asudullah Bek became the 
intimate friend of Malla Khan, and was present at his murder. 
He had already suspicions that something was up, but was 
unable to fix upon anything, so as to warn the Khan. During 
the night he occupied the next room to the Khan, who was 
sleeping soundly, having taken during the day many love- 
potions. During the night he heard his door bolted from with- 
out and a voice which said, ' The Khan is here.' A crowd then 
rushed into the room of the Khan and beat him and stabbed 
him with their knives. He defended himself bravely, but was 
finally cut almost to bits. Asudullah Bek then heard the 
conspirators propose to murder him also, as being one of the 
nearest friends of the Khan, but one of them spoke in his 
favour, saying that he was a foreigner and a physician, living 
there only temporarily, and had done no harm, and these plead- 
ings obtained his release. Poor Asudullah was more dead than 
alive during the colloquy which interested him so much. The 
conspirators then found Shah Murad, who was living in 
Khokand at that time, tossed him in the air on a large white 
felt, and saluted him as Khan. 

In the morning a proclamation was made through the 
streets that Malla Khan was dead and that Shah Murad was 
Khan, and all the officials and great personages of Khokand 


went up to make salaam at the palace. Asudullah was of 
course among them. When the Khan saw him, he smiled and 
said, ' Do not be afraid ; I will not hurt you. but you shall be 
my court doctor also.' He thereupon gave him a complete 
suit of clothes, a turban, and a purse of gold pieces. The 
money he took home and divided with Yakub Bek, who was 
then living with him. 

When the first attack was made upon Tashkent, Asudullah 
Bek was there, and was by the side of Alim Kul when he was 
wounded. The wound and death of Alim Kul caused great 
consternation among his followers ; and as his clothes were taken 
off one by one the doctor gave them to the bystanders to hold, 
and tried to give some fresh air to the dying man. These 
articles of dress were immediately carried off by the persons 
who had received them, so that by the time Alim Kul died 
he was stark naked, and the doctor was obliged to use his own 
khalat to cover him. After the capture of Tashkent the doctor, 
as he spoke Russian, was of considerable service to the Russians, 
and remained there some time ; finally, however, he obtained 
permission from General Tchernayef to go to Khokand in order 
to settle his affairs and bring back his wife, whom he had left 
there. When he arrived at Khokand the Amir of Bukhara 
was in occupation of the city, and the doctor was at once de- 
nounced as a Russian spy. He was brought before the Amir, 
and was about to be sentenced to immediate execution, when 
he fell at his feet and besought him for mercy, saying how well 
he had fought at Tashkent for Khokand, and how he had 
stayed with Alim Kul until the last ; that he had now fairly 
succeeded in getting away from the Russian clutches, and 
desired to settle in Khokand in peace for the rest of his days. 
This tale produced a good effect upon the Amir, who took the 
gold-embroidered skull-cap from his head and tossed it to him, 
saying he would not only spare his life but would make him 
his court doctor, and take him to Bukhara with him. He 
immediately ordered a full suit of clothing to be given to him 
and a purse of money. The doctor was pleased with the turn 
affairs had taken* but still was not anxious to accept the kind 
offer of the Ami*, as it seemed to him that Bukhara would be 
even a more d?«igerous place than Khokand. He, however, 
wiited until the day of the Amir's departure before taking 


any steps. When the Amir's people sent him four carts on 
which to load his househood goods he consulted with his wife, 
and resolved to escape if possible. He sent the soldiers who 
drove the carts all off on various errands, and fled with his 
wife, taking only what little money they had about them. 
Getting outside of Khokand, they concealed themselves in a 
field, lying down in a drain ; but thinking that this would be 
dangerous, as the Amir would probably send men on their 
traces, the doctor's wife went to a small house near by and 
procured for him a female dress, which he put on, and was just 
coming into the house when the soldiers sent by the Amir 
passed and asked him if he had seen the doctor, Asudullah 
Bek, and his wife, who had run away from the Amir. He re- 
plied that no such persons had been in the vicinity, and the 
soldiers went on. He was concealed in this house for some 
days, and then in another, until the Amir, finding himself un- 
successful, had left for Bukhara. He then thought it best, as 
he was almost without money, to return to Khokand, where he 
concealed himself; but his wife being in the bazaar was 
recognised by one of the police officers ; and a chief of police, 
who had formerly been a friend of his, came to him at once, 
but told him he need not fear anything, because the Amir 
had gone, and the Khan was certainly well-disposed towards 
him. He was then summoned to the palace of Khudayar 
Khan, who told him he would not allow him to go to the 
Amir, and would protect him. A few days after this the 
Amir sent a letter to the Khan, urging him to pursue to the 
utmost this traitor and send him on to Bukhara, where he 
would punish him. This of course made Asudullah Bek more 
anxious, but he resolved for the present to wait, taking his 
chance of escaping if anything should happen, for he felt that 
the time might come when the Khan could not feel it possible 
to resist the Amir's demands. Soon after one of his friends, 
the secretary of the Amir, gave him a letter from the Amir to 
the Khan again demanding his instant surrender. Asudullah 
Bek took the letter, though he did not deliver it to the Khan, 
but still has it in his possession, and showed it t to me. He 
resolved to leave Khokand at once, first saying to his wife, 
' I cannot take you with me this time, for it is too dangerous, 
but I will give you a divorce.' This is a fair specimen of Eastern 


conjugal fidelity. The wife accepted the divorce, as there was 
nothing" else to do, and is now living in Khokand, married to 
somebody else. Asudullah Bek went alone through the 
mountains, and after some privations and danger reached 
Tashkent, where a new danger awaited him, for General 
Tchernayef having been removed, he was unknown to General 
Romanofsky and his officers, and was thought by them to be 
a spy from Khokand, but he was fortunate enough at last to find 
a friend to guarantee him, and has remained in Tashkent ever 
since, though frequently invited to Khokand by Khudayar, as 
well as to Bukhara by the Amir, who professes to have entirely 
pardoned him, and only desires the presence of such an agreeable 
companion. He lately received a message from his old friend 
Vakub Khan, through his ambassador, urging him to go to 
Kashgar, but he thinks that ' a bird in the hand is worth two in 
the bush.' On his return to Tashkent he married the widow of 
Alim Kul, the sister of the Khan of Khokand, but she is now 
dead, and he at present has a pretty Tartar wife and some 
very lovely children. Not everyone lives up to the letter of 
the lav/, and when I called on him one day and found his wife 
and daughters unveiled there was no screaming or objurgation, 
but I was welcomed as one of the family. 

In this connection perhaps I may be allowed to insert the 
account of a political execution in Bukhara, as told by Mirza 
Kashbar, and taken down in his words : — 

' At that time I was aid of the police-master of Bukhara, 
who was a relative of mine, Mirza Abdullah Babai ; you have 
probably heard about him — he lived a long time in Orenburg 
and traded there. Batyr Khan (the Amir Nasrullah ) was very 
fond of him. He called him to him and made him police- 
master. He took me as one of his aids, and I served him in 
this duty a long time, almost to the time when MozafTar 
became Amir. MozafTar killed all whom Batyr Khan liked, 
and killed my relative. Every day people made salaam to 
the Amir, as many as 1,000 men, all great people, Datkhas, 
Biis, and all the officials. We were there every time if there 
were no council ; then we made salaam and went away. 
Tskender and his brother, Tchumtchu Khan, came once to the 
salaam, bowed, and went away. As soon as they had gone the 
Amir called me and ordered me to call them back and make 


them sit in a little court in a separate room. I went after 
them and brought them back, as they had not yet got as far 
as their houses. They were put into the separate room. They 
asked what was the matter, and said, " It cannot be that they 
have called us to the council. This is something bad. Our 
affairs are wretched/' T said to them, " I know nothing about 
it. They probably call you for some council." 

c That same day Mirza Abdullah, who lived in the fortress, 
received an order from the Amir not to leave his house. We 
were very much frightened, since we thought that something 
bad would happen to Abdullah, because in Bukhara nobody 
knows what is going to be done : to-day you are alive, to- 
morrow they behead you. We were for a long time unquiet, 
then said our midday prayer, and sat still and waited. 

' Suddenly another message came from the Amir, " from 
above," to let all our people go home for the night, and to 
have only three trustworthy men stay, and after sunset prayers 
to be in the fortress at the drum-beat, and to send for the 
executioner and a woman to wash the dead and to prepare 
two shirts. 

' We began to guess that they were going to punish 
Iskender, but could not understand what woman was to be 
punished with him, because we knew nothing about it before. 

6 After this a badatcha came from the Amir ordering us 
to execute Iskender and the woman he would send to us. 

' A badatcha is a small seal like an almond, which the 
Amir uses when he orders some one to be executed. For other 
matters the Amir has a large seal. 

6 As soon as we received the order we immediately sent for 
Iskender and brought him to the place of execution. In the 
Amir's fortress there is a place like a well, deep, and covered 
with boards. As soon as they execute them they throw the 
body there. There are many corpses there. 

'The executioner was already waiting for us. He im- 
mediately seized Iskender, threw him on the ground, and as 
Iskender had no beard he put his ringers in his nostrils, and, 
taking hold of his head, cut his throat. After this they 
brought a woman from the Amir. As soon as she saw the dead 
body of Iskender she immediately began to weep and to abuse 
the Amir. We then saw that the woman was the sister of 


Iskender, the wife of tne Amir. She was of the family of 
Keninghez, and all called her " My moon of Keninghez." The 
executioner tied her hands, and shot her with a pistol in the 
back of the head. 

' With us they do not cut the throats of women, but shoot 

' He did not kill her at once. She fell and struggled for some 
time. The executioner kicked her twelve times on her breasts 
and back till she died. 

1 They say that she was punished because she, according to 
the order of her brother, poured mercury into the ear of the 
Amir when he was asleep. 

1 For a long time they did not know what disease he had. 
He went to Hissar and Karshi, but did not get better. At last 
they guessed why he was ill. Yes, it is written in our books 
how diseases are caused. Yes, I saw a great deal in Bukhara, 
and some time will tell you about it.' 

In Central Asia nearly everyone is a merchant as well as 
agriculturist, and our little circle of natives was not without its 
mercantile representatives. One of these was Doda Mohammed, 
a stout, jolly merchant, whose business was in great part to act 
as a sort of court furnisher and agent, if not spy, to the Khan 
of Khokand, whom he provided amongst other things with 
champagne, under the name of lemonade. The Amir of 
Bukhara buys it under the name of kan-su (sugar-water), of 
course to prevent scandal in passing the custom-house. Doda 
Mohammed has even sold boys from Tashkent as slaves in 
Khokand. Then there were one or two old merchants from 
Bukhara, and I several times met a man from Peshawur who 
had come all the way from India by Kabul and Balkh, that road 
which was so easy to him and is so difficult for us, to collect 
some money which was owing to him. 

There are in Tashkent two merchants who have much in- 
fluence both with Eussians and natives; one of these is SherafTei, 
a Tartar by birth, and a runaway Russian soldier, who has 
been in this country about forty-years, and by his adroitness 
and commercial capacity succeeded in making himself a large 
fortune, and in enjoying a high reputation as a merchant before 
the Russian times. He lent much money to the Khan and 
people about the court, and much of this is still due to him, 
vol. I. H 


Of late he has interested himself a good deal in army cc ntracts, 
and has officially ruined himself. I say 'officially,' because it is 
one of the rules in the Russian commissariat department that if 
a contractor be unable i.o fulfil his contract he may give notice 
of his inability, and on paying down twenty per cent, of the 
contract is released. Sheraffei has on one or two occasions done 
this, but the person who took the contract after him bought 
the grain of Sheraffei at about three times its previous value, 
so that Sheraffei easily made up the twenty per cent., together 
with a nice additional profit. 

The other, Said Azim, a very sharp and intriguing man, is 
a native of Tashkent, who learned Kussian by being frequently 
at Orenburg and Troitsk for trading purposes. He was absent 
at Troitsk when Tashkent was taken, and when, on his return, 
he found out what high honour and repute certain Sarts and 
Tartars enjoyed among the Eussians as interpreters and 
mediators between them and the population of the town, he 
immediately attached himself to the Russian officials, and since 
then, by universal politeness and flattery, and by presents even, 
has succeeded in keeping on the very best possible terms with 
them. Though a man of no great property he lives in very 
fine style, is always dressed well, and rides a magnificent horse. 
He has also engaged in the business of army contracts, and has 
fulfilled them with great accuracy, though to do so he has been 
obliged to borrow much money of Hindoos and others, to whom he 
is still largely indebted. If rumour speaks correctly he uses his 
influence among the natives very badly, and takes bribes right 
and left. The position of Said Azim is in some respects very 
peculiar. The Russian officials believe that he has vast influence 
with the native inhabitants, and honour him accordingly, and 
make him their representative in matters which concern the 
natives, who on their part, seeing that he is on the best of 
terms with the Russians, and that he is much favoured by 
them, all treat him with respect and use him as their mediator 
with the officials. In reality the Sarts hate him, and I more 
than once heard people say that should the Russians ever leave 
Tashkent the first thing that would be done would be to kill 
Said Azim. He meddles in every matter, and is said, in carry- 
ing or his numerous lawsuits, to hire witnesses and buy up the 
Kazis, and there are few affairs of importance among the natives 


in which he does not somehow manage to have a ruling voice. 
Here is a slight instance. On one occasion a feast was given to 
me by a young merchant, Azim Bai, at which there were to be 
a large number of guests, and where it was proposed to have 
dancing and other amusements. Said Azim heard of this, and 
felt hurt to think that he, as the most important Sart, had no f < 
been requested to get up this festivity. He had previously had 
a quarrel with Azim Bai on account of an inheritance which he 
had managed to get hold of by breaking into his house at night. 
He therefore went to his intimate friend, the Vice-Grovernor, 
and represented to him that any such performance as was pro- 
posed to be given for me would be contrary to the feelings of 
the people, and would be looked upon in the light of an insult 
to their religion and customs, as all the better class of the 
population were desirous of putting down such performances, 
which were not allowed by the strict letter of their religion 
It would seem that a private party of this sort, to whicl 
two Russians only were invited, was hardly worth the interfe- 
rence of the Government, but still a hint was given, and it was 
accordingly found necessary to confine the festivity to a dinner 
and some quiet singing. The people apparently did not entirely 
sympathise with the representations of Said Azim, judging from 
the fact that more than a thousand loiterers were gathered about 
the garden of Azim Bai, waiting for the performance to begin, 
when they hoped to obtain entrance. The sincerity of Said 
Azim in this matter is shown by the fact that after the return 
of the Russians from the Khivan expedition he himself gave a 
large feast, at which he had all the amusements and dancing 
which had so offended his religion and morality on the previous 

Since then he has been engaged in a very scandalous affair, 
which, however, does not seem to have at all compromised him 
with the authorities. Said Azim, it seems, took a fancy to marry 
the daughter of Ishan Hodja, a native of Tashkent and nephew- 
in-law of Yakub Khan of Kashgar, but her father opposed this, 
partly because she was yet a child of nine years old, and partly 
because Said Azim was not of sufficiently good family, as 
Hodjas can only marry with Hodjas. Said Azim, finding 
himself opposed, devised a plan to carry the girl off, when her 
father and friends asked for the interference of the KazL 


Said Azim on his part obtained the influence of some friends in 
the Government, and the result was that an order was made 
forbidding Ishan Hodja to allow his daughter to be mar- 
ried until she had reached the full age, and then only on con- 
dition that she was first to be proposed to Said Azim, if he 
should then wish to marry her. This was a very strange 
decision in itself, but the matter went even farther. Among 
the persons who acted on behalf of the girl were a son of 
Yakub Khan and Alim Hadji Yunusof, of whom I have 
already spoken. They refused to sign this decision, and 
protested against it, on the ground of its being illegal. 
Alim Hadji Yunusof was then arrested on the charge of being 
a disturber of the public peace and of speaking slightingly 
of the Eussian authorities ; and in spite of his having the diploma 
of 'hereditary honourable citizen,' — which indeed he was the first 
in Tashkent to obtain, Said Azim being the second, — was con- 
veyed to the common prison and stripped and searched. Subse- 
quently, in the face of all complaints and protests, he was exiled 
without any trial to Lepsa, on the confines of Siberia. The son 
of Yakub Khan was so frightened that he ran away to Kashgar. 1 

On walking up the chief street of Russian Tashkent to the 
north one imperceptibly comes into the native town. The 
square stuccoed buildings cease, low clay walls and little native 
shops begin, and almost before one knows it the place has 
entirely changed its aspect. No town in Central Asia presents 
such a variety as the real native Tashkent. The streets are 
rarely straight, and in rambling about the town we go up and 
down hill, turning to this side and that, sometimes between 
high walls, sometimes beneath the wooden portico of a mosque 
which mounts hig^ in the air, now along the edge of some deep 
ravine, and now crossing some rushing stream on a low wooden 
bridge. Everywhere trees are leaning over the walls, for every- 
where there are gardens, and we can leave the street and take a 
by-path up the edge of some stream where an old wooden mill- 
wheel is busily turning, and feel ourselves almost in a country 

1 An jrder was also given to exile Ishan Hodja, if anything could be found 
ngainst him, but it was not carried out. When Mahmud Yakub Khan, the Envoy 
of Kashgar, visited St. Petersburg in 1875, his main object was to settle this 
question and to obtain possession of the girl, who had, he said, been betrothed to 
the son of his maeter. 


nook. An Asiatic mill is a curious affair. The water turns a 
rude wheel, from the axle of which project large wooden teeth, 
if so they may be called ; on these teeth lie huge beams, and as 
the wheel goes round these beams slide one by one over the 
ends of the teeth, causing the other end, made like the head of a 
hammer, to come down with a crash into a mortar, pulverizing 
the wheat which is lying ready there. 

Sometimes we pass into the large garden of some medresse. 
or college, where are shady walks, and where the turf about the 
edge of a square pond is covered with idlers from the town, for 
the pupils are mostly in their little rooms reading or reciting 
their lessons. In some of these retired quarters of the town old 
Sarts quietly live who never even think of going into the 
Russian city, and it is said that many of them have never even 
seen one of the ' infidels.' There are few old buildings, and 
most of the mosques are small and dilapidated. The only ones 
worthy of mention are the old ruined mosque of Hodja Akhrar, 
with its broken mosaics, and the modern medresse of Beklar-Bek, 
with its brick turrets and galleries, which occupies a command- 
ing position over the bazaar. The chief streets are in places, 
especially on the hills, paved with large stones, intended as aids 
to vehicles, but which serve rather as obstacles. It is quite 
possible that in the mud of the winter and autumn these stones 
may be useful as a safe foundation for the feet of passengers, 
but during the summer they are deeply buried in the abundant 
and suffocating dust. 

The walls of Tashkent are said to be sixteen miles in length, 
and had formerly twelve gates, the three adjoining the Russian 
town having been lately taken down. The wall is in places 
twelve or fifteen feet high, built of hard blocks of clay, and 
then plastered over ; much thicker at the base than the top, 
which is crenelated, and has embrasures for cannon. There are 
places on the inside about half-way up where there is a narrow 
path and platform, on which it was possible for soldiers to 
stand and cannon to be placed. A narrow street separates tne 
wall from the houses. Outside of the walls — and the town is 
about six miles across — the gardens extend for several miles. 
These gardens, which are thickly planted with trees, and at a 
a distance entirely conceal the town, are still very beautiful, 
though they have greatly suffered since the Russian occupa- 


tion. On one side they were destroyed to make room for the 
fair, and to afford parade, drill, and practice-grounds to the 
troops. In addition to this there has been great destruction of 
trees for the purposes of fuel. At present coal, which is 
brought from beyond Hodjent, is very dear, and it is found 
cheaper and pleasanter to cut down the native orchards and 
burn the wood of peach, apricot, and cherry trees, the supply of 
which must soon run short. The revolutions of centuries des- 
troyed most of the forests and plantations in Central Asia, and 
unfortunately Eussian colonists, accustomed as they are at home 
to consider forests as enemies, and to be extravagant in the 
use of wood, have now almost exhausted what had hitherto been 
spared. Beyond the gardens we find the open Steppe, which 
stretches from the Syr Darya, here some forty miles distant, to 
the mountains. Villages, with their trees and gardens, are 
seen on all sides, for the population of this district of Kurama 
is almost as thick as in the valley of the Zarafshan. One of 
these — Kuiluk, on the Tchirtchik — is the residence of the 
Russian prefect, and is full of Russian houses ; another, Nogai 
Kurgan, is inhabited solely by Tartars, who had fled here in 
former times from Russia, or who have come for trade. At 
Kaplan-Bek is a horse-breeding establishment, the chief 
use of which is to afford a fat place for a Russian official. 
While nominally a private enterprise started for the im- 
provement of the race of horses in Turkistan, it was endowed 
by the Government with some 5,000 acres of land taken from 
the Kirghiz and 20,000 rubles in money, and has since then 
received 15,000 rubles more from the fund established for 
savings banks in the district. The mountains here, called 
Tchatkal, which are about thirty miles from Tashkent, and 
which form a beautiful feature in the landscape, contain some 
interesting villages, inhabited by Tadjiks, especially up the 
valley of the Tchatkal, where is the picturesque little town of 
Hodjakent, with its frail bridges resting on huge rocks in the 
bed of the stream. 

The prosperity of Tashkent is entirely dependent on its 
water-supply, which is the most abundant in Turkistan. All 
the water is brought from the river Tchirtchik, running down 
from the neighbouring mountains by a large canal called Bos-su, 
which leaves the river at Niazbek, some sixteen miles above 


the city. This canal divides into four others, and these with 
their ramifications are brought through every part of the town. 
For the needs of the Russian town it was resolved to construct 
a new canal, and the work was entrusted to a Eussian engineer, 
who evidently had not studied under the natives the art of 
irrigation, in which they are so skilful. A huge embankment 
was erected and a ditch was dug at great cost, but not a drop 
of water has ever flowed into it, and the work has been 

The town is divided into four parts or quarters — Shaikan- 
taur, the north-eastern corner of the town ; Bish-agatch, the 
southern part, next the Russian town ; Koktchi, the western 
quarter; and Sibzar, the north-western. The old tradition is 
that these quarters were formerly separate villages, sometimes 
at enmity with each other, and that gradually with the increase 
of trade they became consolidated into one huge town. Each 
of these quarters has its special aksakals (literally greybeards) 
or elders, and its chief of police, the whole town being under 
the government of a Russian commandant or prefect, who lives 
in a large house on the side nearest the Russian part of the 
city. The present commandant, Colonel Medynsky, has been 
in Central Asia since the time of General Tchernaief, and has a 
thorough knowledge of the people with whom he has to deal, 
and understands the Turki language sufficiently well to pre- 
vent his being imposed upon by incapable interpreters. 
With the exception of the prefect and his immediate assis- 
tants all of the officers of the town and of the police are 
natives, and the order and good government are very remark- 
able. Crimes are very rare, theft being the most common ; and 
it is possible to walk or ride through any part of Tashkent at 
any hour of the night without incurring the slightest danger, 
or even meeting persons who molest or insult you. I could not 
but be struck with this evidence of the order kept by the 
native police, and of the good feeling which existed between the 
natives and the Russians. The expenses of the town, which 
are rapidly increasing, are paid out of the taxes, of which there 
are four kinds ; the land, the weight, the zemsky, and the com- 
munal tax. The land tax, which replaces the old heradj and 
tanap, is assessed on the numerous gardens and grain fields 
within the city limits, and brings in about 22,000 rubles, which 


go to the government. The weight tax, whicn is nominally for 
the preservation of order in the bazaars, amounts to about 7,000 
rubles. The zemsky tax, which is affected to the repairs of 
roads, bridges, &c, is a fixed tax of 75 kopeks on each house 
or kibitka, and brings in nearly 11,000 rubles, the number of 
houses being estimated at 14,222 with 300 kibitkas. The com- 
munal tax is properly for the town expenses, and one quarter of 
the amount to be raised is assessed en bloc on each of the four 
quarters of the town, it being left to the native officials properly 
to distribute it on the inhabitants. This tax in 1874 amounted 
to over 86,000 rubles, making with the other taxes 3'04 rubles 
per head. In 1868 it was only 16,000 rubles, but has been 
yearly increasing. As no receipts for taxes are given, a wide 
door is left open to fraud and extortion. 

It is difficult to ascertain exactly the number of inhabitants 
in Tashkent, as no careful and accurate census has yet been 
taken. The number of mosques is stated to be 300 ; and accord- 
ing to the usual estimate of a parish of from thirty to fifty 
houses to every mosque, and of five inhabitants to each house, 
the population would be about 60,000. This estimate appears 
to me to be much too low. There must be very few houses in 
Tashkent that do not have more than five inhabitants, and 
persons who know the city well consider the population to 
be about 1 20,000, which seems tolerably correct. For the pur- 
poses of taxation, the population is estimated at 41,799, or less 
than three to a house, and taxes are officially reported for only 
that number. 

The inhabitants of Tashkent are chiefly Uzbeks, though 
there are some Tadjiks, and a number of Tartars, Kirghiz, 
Hindoos, and others. The natives here, as well as in many 
other places of Turkistan, are known by the name of Sarts, but 
this name has no ethnological significance, as Mr. Shaw was 
one of the first to show. According to the natives the whole 
population of the country is divided into two classes — settled 
and nomad ; the nomads are called Kazak, vagabond, or wan- 
derer, as I have previously remarked ; and the settled popu- 
lation go by the name of Sarts. If the theory of Mr. Lerch 
be correct, Sart means merely a city inhabitant. 1 It is remark - 

1 Mr. Lerch, in No. 1 of the ' Russische Revue,' traces the words Iaxaxtes and 
laxartai to a root Xartai, which is the representative of an old Iranic root, khsatra, 


able that in the older writers the word Sart was used at first 
almost exclusively for the inhabitants of the valley of the Syr, 
and was not known in Bukhara or Samarkand, though it 
passed over into Kashgar, Khokand, and Khiva. Abul Ghazi 
speaks of the Sarts as the settled dwellers in his own country, 
Khiva, as distinguished from the Uzbeks; whereas in the 
country conquered by him, as Bukhara, he uses the word 
Tadjik. At present the name Sart is also known in Bukhara. As 
used by the nomad tribes, the word ' Sart ' is almost a word of 
abuse, and synonymous with a cowardly and effeminate person. 

So far as race is concerned the inhabitants of Turkistan 
may be broadly divided into those which are of Iranic or 
Persian origin and those of Turkish descent. To the former 
belong the Tadjiks, who were the original inhabitants not only 
of the country between the Syr and the Amu, the ancient Maver- 
annahr, but also of the right bank of the Syr, Khokand and 
Kashgar. It was Firdusi in the Shah-nameh who first made 
the Amu the boundary between Iran and Turan, but Professor 
Grigorief has clearly shown that these terms were used in a 
purely geographical and not in an ethnological sense, and that 
the contest between Iran and Turan was not a contest between 
two different races, but a rivalry between two tribes of the same 
origin.' In later times Turan has been confounded with Turk, 
and it has been used not only as a general term for all races of 
Turkish descent, but even still more broadly and improperly 
to express everything which is neither Semitic nor Aryan, and 
in fact everything of which ethnologists and philologists knew 
little or nothing. A part of the country was undoubtedly inha- 
bited by the Sacae or Scythians, a people of Aryan race, the dis- 
tant ancestors of the Germans and Slavonians. The Turkish 
races were comparatively late immigrants into this region. 
When they did come they dispossessed in a great measure 
the Persian or Iranic tribes of the land, confining them either 
to the cities or compelling them to take refuge in the moun- 

as seen in the later Persian shehr, city. Iaxartai would thus mean the dwellers in 
cities, and Iaxartes the river of cities ; and the word Sart, the coiTuption of 
Iaxartai, was passed over from the Iranic nomads to the Turkish nomads as a 
designation for the settled inhabitants of the lower valley of the Syr, which was 
then thickly populated and full of nourishing cities. 

1 ' Trudi Vostochnago Otdieleniya Imp. Russ. Archaeologitcheskago batch estva,' 
vol. xvi. p. 286. ' The Scythian people Sacae.' 


tains, and accordingly we find that not only in the Ak-tau 
mountains, near Tashkent, are there small scattered villages 
inhabited exclusively by Tadjiks, but that the mountain ranges 
about the head-quarters of the Zarafshan are thickly settled 
with them. With each new wave of Turks the Tadjiks were 
driven farther back into the mountains. These Tadjik moun- 
taineers are usually called Graltchas. In Bukhara, Samar- 
kand, and Hodjent, Tadjiks form the main element of the city 
population, but on the right bank of the Syr the proportion is 
much smaller, the population being nearly all of Turkish origin. 
The Turkomans call the Tadjiks Tad, but this latter name is 
especially used for the inhabitants of Merv, who were forcibly 
colonised in the neighbourhood of Samarkand after the capture 
of that city by the Amir of Bukhara, Shah Murad. 

The Uzbeks are the descendants of the Turkish tribes who 
at various times migrated to this part of Asia, both before and 
since the time of Tchinghiz Khan. The population of Central 
Asia has never become fixed, and even now movements among 
tribes and races continue. Their name means ' independent ' 
or ' free,' from Uz, self, and bek, a bek, and their origin must 
be sought in one of those free confederacies which, like that of 
the Kirghiz-Kazaks, was founded in the fifteenth century. In 
this way the names of former great nations, such as the Naimans, 
are preserved to us as appellations of Uzbek clans. According 
to opinions current in Tashkent and Bukhara the Uzbeks 
are divided into ninety-two clans or families, but hardly 
two lists of these olans will agree. In each clan there are 
several divisions and subdivisions, but many of these have 
in the course of time even come to be considered as original 
families. In some cases new clans have arisen, as Yus-ming- 
kyrk, from the coalescence of parts of three different tribes. 
Though many of the Uzbeks are settled in the cities north 
of the Syr, the greater part of them still pursue their 
nomad life under certain restrictions, and they do not by 
any means keep to the same places, so that localities which 
twenty or thirty years ago were inhabited by one clan are 
now possessed by another. Some of the leading clans are 
the Ming, to which the present Khan of Khokand belongs, who 
inhabit Urgut and the mountains to the south-east of Samarkand ; 
the Manghit, of which the Amir of Bukhara is a member, who 



dwell in the neighbourhood of Karshi, but also have some 
settlements near Samarkand ; the Keoeghez, who live in Shahri- 
sabs; the Yus,Kyrk, Kiptchak,Kitai, Kungrad, &c. The Kirghiz, 
as I have already explained, are of the same stock as the 


Uzbeks ; and the KaraKalpaks, the most of whom occupy the 
delta of the Amu, near Khiva, though a number of them live 
near Samarkand, are considered to be only a clan of Uzbeks. 
The Turkomans, the Gruz of old times, are thought by some to 
be Uzbeks who have become somewhat more separated from 


the rest; at all events they were a similar confederacy of the 
same race. The Tartars are known everywhere in Central Asia ?.s 
Nogai, which is also the name of an Uzbek clan. 1 

The Tadjiks and Uzbeks are readily distinguished from eacn 
other, not only in appearance but also in character. The 
Tadjik is larger and fuller in person, with an ample black 
beard, and with an air of shrewdness and cunning. He is 
fickle, untruthful, lazy, cowardly, and boastful, and in every 
way morally corrupted. The Uzbek is taller and thinner, with 
a scanty beard, and a longer and more strongly marked face. 
He is simple in his manners and dress, while the Tadjik is 
devoted to his personal appearance, and fond of adorning 
himself. The Uzbeks look upon the Tadjiks with contempt, 
but at the same time they are dependent upon them. The 
Tadjiks treat the Uzbeks as fools and children of nature, and 
smilingly say that they have them entirely in their power. 
Intermarriages, however, are not uncommon. The Tadjik has 
none of the pride of race which the Uzbek possesses, and will 
rarely call himself by the name Tadjik. If asked who he is 
he will say, ' I am a man of Tashkent ; ' ; I am from Hodjent; 
' I am a Samarkandi, ' as the case may be ; while the Uzbek 
will say, c I am an Uzbek of the clan of Jalayr or Kalagar,' 
and will even in many cases particularise the division and sub- 
division of the clan to which he belongs, though these dis- 
tinctions have greatly dropped out of use in Turkistan. 

The popular story of Shirin and Ferhat well shows the 
difference between the Uzbek and Tadjik natures. There was 
once a queen, Shirin Hatun, of great beauty, who lived on the 
farther side of the Syr Darya. She had two wooers, one a 
Tadjik and the other an Uzbek named Ferhat. Both were 
persistent, and as she was at a loss which to choose, an old 
woman counselled her to give them some difficult work, and 
to marry the one who succeeded. She therefore commanded 
them to dig a canal through the Famished Steppe. Ferhat, a 
strong stalwart fellow, with a simple and straightforward 
nature, took his spade and dug away all day, trying to turn the 

1 Full lists and accounts of the Uzbek clans, -which are of some historical and 
geographical interest, will be found in Khanikoff s ' Description of the Bukharan 
Khanate,' and in 'Russian Turkistan,' part 11., Moscow, 1872 ; 'Materials for the 
Statistics of Turkistan,' part III., St. Petersburg, 1874 ; both in Russian. 


channel of the river, and thus formed the cataracts at Bigavat. 
The Tadjik, crafty, and full of expedients, plaited a wicker of 
reeds and laid it on the ground across the steppe. Early in 
the morning the sun's rays reflected from the shining reeds 
made them appear like a stream of water, and Shirin Hatun 
thereupon called for the Tadjik and married him. When the 
Uzbek learned of the deception that had been practised upon 
him, he was in despair, and threw his spade high up in the air 
so that as it came down it cut off his head with a single stroke. 

The Tadjiks speak a dialect of Persian, which has been greatly 
influenced by the Turkish dialects of the neighbourhood, and 
has taken in many Turkish words. It retains, however, many 
Aryan words that are not used in modern Persian, which is an 
evidence of the long continuance of the race in these regions. 1 
While few Uzbeks speak Tadjik most of the Tadjiks speak 
the Turki, which is the language of the Uzbeks. The dialect 
of Turki spoken here is that known to some European scholars 
by the name of Jagatai, though few in Central Asia now 
know the name. On being asked what language he speaks 
a native will either say, 'I speak Turki,' or 'the Uzbek language.' 
The name Jagatai was, I believe, given to this dialect by the 
Persians, as the Uzbek tribes of this part of Asia were known 
to the Persian historians as ' the men of Jagatai,' from the 
son of Tchinghiz Khan, to whom this region was allotted. As 
most of the Tadjiks, except in the districts inhabited exclusively 
by them, speak Turki, it is possible with that language to go 
anywhere in Central Asia. At the same time the Tadjik is 
the language of politeness and culture, in which most letters 
and all state and official documents are written. 

The whole population of the Eussian province of Turki stan 
is estimated at about 1,600,000, of whom fully 1,000,000 are 
nomads. Besides the Tadjiks and Uzbeks there are fragments 
of other races. For instance, there are many Persians, some 
who have been originally brought from Persia as slaves, and 
their descendants, and others who have been forcibly colonised 
there during some af the wars, as, for example, the inhabitants 
of Merv, who were settled in the neighbourhood of Samarkand. 
There are also a few Arabs living in the neighbourhood of 

1 A critical study of the Tadjik dialect, by Prof. Grigorief, will be found in bifl 
adition of the 'Memoirs of Mirza Shems.' Kazan, 1861. 



Katta-Kiirgan, near Karshi, and at Kukertli, on the Amu 
Darya. Those near Katta-kurgan speak Tadjik and Turki ; 
the rest speak a debased and corrupted Arabic. With 
regard to them there are two traditions — one that they are 
the descendants of the Arabs who forcibly introduced Moham- 

medanism into the country, which they themselves believe ; 
and another that they were settled here by Timur after he 
had conquered the Western powers. They weave woollen and 
cotton stuffs and make excellent carpets. The number of 
Arabs in the district of Zarafshan is estimated at 2,000 families. 


In every city, and even in many of the smaller towns of Central 
Asia, there are numbers of Hebrews and Hindoos, the former 
having been in the country for centuries, the latter coming 
temporarily from the neighbourhood of Shikarpur for the 
purposes of trade. There are to be seen at times in the towns 
people called Liuli, who are apparently the same as our gypsies. 
The women tell fortunes, cure the sick, and carry on a small 
traffic. The men trade in horses, and have almost a monopoly 
of leeches, which they collect from the ponds and streams. 
Connected with these are two other races apparently much the 
same — the Jiutchi, who are probably Kafirs from Kafiristan ; 
and the Mazang, who are settled in some small villages, and 
are agriculturists, though their women traverse the whole 
country as pedlars with small wares. The Liuli, on the con- 
trary, are nomads, as gypsies are everywhere. Externally they 
are all Mussulmans, but it is doubtful whether they would be 
able to repeat a single prayer, and as a general rule they neglect 
all the ordinances of religion. I should also mention here 
another small, mysterious people, called Andi, who inhabit 
Mashad, the second post station between Tchimkent and 
Aulie-ata and three other villages in the immediate neighbour- 
hood. They speak a dialect of Turki, allow the women to be 
unveiled, intermarry among themselves, and seem to be ashamed 
of their origin, as they are unwilling to admit that they are 

The history of Tashkent is surrounded with much obscurity, 
as the historical documents relating to the troublous times in 
Central Asia are but few ; and though it is said that a chronicle 
of Tashkent exists, European eyes have not yet seen it. A city 
existed on this spot, or more probably some twenty-five miles 
to the south-west, at a place now called Old Tashkent, which 
was known by the name of Tchatch or Jadj, and is mentioned 
in the Shah-nameh, and even earlier by the Chinese traveller 
of the seventh century, Hiouen-Thsang. The Arabic writers 
found difficulty in pronouncing and spelling the name, and it 
then became altered to Shash. The present name Tashkent 
probably originated with the Turkish nomad tribes when they 
came into the country, Sha^h, which meant noth rig for 
them, being changed to Task, a stone. Kent is a Persian 
word meaning town. Lying on the borders of Maverannahr, 


Tchatch, or Tashkent, which must even then have been u 
large and rich town, belonged sometimes to the sove- 
reigns of Bukhara and Samarkand, and sometimes to the 
Turkish tribes, who lived farther to the north-east — and 
whose capital for a long time was Bala-Sagun. When this 
kingdom was overthrown by Tchinghiz Khan, Tashkent passed 
into his possession, and was ruled over in connection with 
the neighbouring countries by his son Jagatai and his succes- 
sors. After the reign of Timur it remained in the possession 
of his successors until they were conquered by the great 
Sheibani Khan. In 1598 it was taken by the Kirghiz, who 
were just then at the height of their power, from Abdullah 
Khan, the last great sovereign of Samarkand and Bukhara. 
The Kirghiz retained possession of the place and the adjacent 
province until 1723, when it was taken by Galdan-Tsyran, 
the ruler of Jungaria, who was then greatly extending his 
dominions. This dynasty was overthrown in 1769, and it is 
probable that from that time the bekship of Tashkent enjoyed 
a semi-independent position, paying allegiance at times to the 
ruler of Bukhara, until about the beginning of the present 
century, when it was captured by Alim Khan of Khokand. 
With the exception of the short period when Khokand was 
subjugated by Bukhara, Tashkent remained in the possession 
of Khokand until it was captured by the Eussians, although 
always a great rival to Khokand, and ready on the slightest 
provocation to rebel. At times, indeed, it was the seat of the 

The capture of Tashkent by General Tchernaief, considering 
the small force he had at his disposal, is one of the most re- 
markable things in the history of the Eussian conquests in 
Central Asia. Immediately after the capture of Tchimkent, in 
October 1864, General Tchernaief thought that as the Kushbegi 
of Tashkent had died at Tchimkent, and many of the garrison 
had been drawn from Tashkent, it might be possible to take 
that city by a coup de main. He accordingly advanced to it, 
and on- October 15 placed a battery in position, and after 
making a breach in the walls gave the assault. He found, how « 
ever, that the city was much more strongly defended than he 
nad expected, and was repulsed with a loss of sixteen killed and 
sixty-two wounded, and returne 1 to Tchimkent. A large body 


of Khokand troops soon after marched towards the city Turkis- 
tan, but after the severe fight at Ikan were obliged to retire. It 
was found that the Amir of Bukhara, being alarmed at the pro- 
gress of the Russians, was massing troops near Uratepe with the 
design of taking possession of Tashkent, to prevent it falling 
into Eussian hands. As the disposition of the inhabitants of 
Tashkent was not very favourable towards the riders of Khokand, 
and they were suffering under the despotism of the Regent 
Alim Kid, General Tchernaief feared lest they might be enticed 
over to the Bukharan side, and therefore considered it necessary 
to take some measures to prevent this. He accordingly attacked 
and took the small fortress of Niazbek, situated more than six- 
teen miles to the north-east of Tashkent, on the river Tchirtchik, 
which commanded the water supply of Tashkent, and thu? 
placed the city to a certain extent at his mercy. As the 
peaceful party in Tashkent were favourably inclined towards the 
Russians, but was not yet able to declare itself openly in their 
favour, General Tchernaief moved down to a new position some 
six miles from the city, and made a reconnaissance of its north- 
eastern side, during which it had been agreed that the Russian 
partisans should attack the garrison and open the gates of the 
city, but on the same day the Regent of Khokand, Mullah 
Alim Kul, with an army of 6,000 men and forty guns, arrived 
and entered the city. On the next day, May 21, Alim Kul 
and 7,000 men made an attack upon the Russian camp, but 
after a severe right were driven to the very walls of the town, 
where they took refuge, though it was thought unadvisable by 
the Russians to make an assault at that time. In this affair 
the Russians had some twenty wounded and bruised, and the 
enemy lost more than 300 killed, among whom was, as was 
soon learned, Alim Kul himself. The death of Alim Kul made 
a great impression not only in Tashkent but in all Khokand, 
but the tide of affairs was rather to the profit of the Bukharan 
partisans, and an embassy — among whom was Ata Bek, the 
present Atalyk of Khokand— was sent to the Amir of Bukhara 
with a request for aid and the expression of a desire to be re» 
ceived as Bukharan subjects. In order to prevent any possi- 
bility of aid being sent by the Amir, and to show the inhabitants 
that any resistance was useless, General Tchernaief moved his 
forces in the direction of the fortress of Tchinaz, which covered 
YOL. I. i 


the ferry across the Syr Darya ; but when he was still some 
twelve miles from the place the aksakal came to inform him 
that the garrison had fled across the river and that the ferry 
was destroyed. Only a small force was then sent to occupy 
Tchinaz, and General Tchernaief returned to take up his po- 
sition on the Bukhara road, some three miles from the walls of 
Tashkent. The inhabitants of the city were in great distress 
from want of water, there being but one spring in the town, 
and were even short of provisions. They were in the habit of 
sending parties out into the surrounding gardens and fields 
to cut the then ripe corn and to pasture the cattle. This was 
often prevented by the Russian attacks, and the cattle were 
seized. They rested their only hope of deliverance upon the 
Amir, who had not refused assistance, but had demanded that 
the young Khan, Seid Sultan, should be sent to him as a 
hostage. On receipt of this intelligence the Khan, with 200 of 
his immediate followers, fled on the night of June 21, and at 
the same time a small party of Bukharans led by Ishan Bek 
entered Tashkent and took command of the city. The forces 
of the Amir also began to show themselves at various points 
along the Syr Darya. It was impossible formally to besiege the 
city, the walls of which were sixteen miles round, and enclosed 
a population of considerably over 1 00,000. It would also have 
been as disastrous to the Russian policy to retreat from the 
city and allow it to be taken possession of by the Bukharans 
as it was dangerous to risk a drawn battle with the strong 
army of the Amir, when the forces of General Tchernaief 
amounted at the most to only 2,000 men and twelve guns. It 
was finally resolved to attempt an assault, which was fixed for 
the early morning of June 27, on the Kamelan gate, which, 
leading into the highest part of the city, would, when taken, 
render it possible to command the town. At three o'clock 
the storming party, under command of Captain (now Major- 
General) Abramof, made a successful assault on the walls, 
surprised the watch party and opened the gates, after 
silencing the artillery fire which was opened on them from 
various barbettes, and Abramof went along the city wall some 
six miles to the Kara-Sarai gates, leading to that part of the 
city where the Russian partisans were supposed to live. Major 
De La Croix at the same time entered by the Khokand gate 


and took possession of that part of the citadel. During the 
whole of that day the troops were occupied in making progress 
through the various streets of the bazaar, finding at every step 
barricades, and the strongest resistance from soldiers and others 
stationed in the gardens and houses. At night everything 
seemed to be quiet, but on the next morning, the 28th, when a 
force was sent to collect the enemy's guns and to blow up the 
citadel, the affray was renewed, and it was found that barricades, 
hastily formed of carts and trees, had been everywhere erected. 
It was necessary first to clear these away, and to stop the fire of 
the enemy, and the whole day was spent in the contest. At 
last in the evening messengers came asking for quarter, and 
promising to formally surrender the city on the following 
morning. At the appointed hour a deputation from the city, 
consisting of the aksakals and magistrates and the most re- 
spected inhabitants, arrived and surrendered the city uncon- 
ditionally, and measures were immediately taken for the 
restoration of order. Complete tranquillity prevailed, and not 
another shot was fired. The whole number of the defenders 
amounted to some 30,000, of whom more than 5,000 cavalry 
escaped, and were pursued by #9 Cossacks as far as the river 
Tchirtchik, into which they threw themselves in great confusion. 
Among the trophies were 16 large standards, 63 cannon, and 
72,000 lbs. of powder. The Eussian loss was 25 killed and 117 
wounded. The moderate party in the town explained to 
General Tchernaief, that they were very anxious to keep order, 
and a few days after the surrender requested his signature to a 
proclamation, in which they gave the strongest injunctions for 
discipline, and for the resumption by the people of their usual 
employments, and, what was strange for Mussulmans, spoke in 
the highest terms of the Kussian Emperor. 1 The conduct of 

' This proclamation, which was written in Turki by the Mussulman authorities 
of Tashkent of their own motion, is so curious that I quote its beginning and end : 

1 By order of the great white Tsar, and by command of his lieutenant, the 
Governor Iskender Tchernaief (this is a compliment referring to Alexander the 
Great, his name being Michael), we hereby declare to the inhabitants of the city of 
Tashkent that they must in everything act according to the commands of Almighty 
God and the teaching of the orthodox religion of Mohammed, on whom and on 
whose descendants be the blessing of God, and to the laws established by him, not 
departing from them one iota. Let all, so far as they can, act for the advantage 
and profit of the country. Let them say everywhere their prayers five times a 

i 2 


General Tchernaief made a most favourable impression upon 
the natives, and from that time on there was not the slightest 
trouble of any kind on the part of the native population. In- 
numerable stories are told of the courage and simplicity of 
General Tchernaief, and among them that, on the evening of 
the surrender of the town, he rode through the streets, which 
were hardly then clear of the dead, attended by only two or 
three Cossacks, and took a native bath. Immediately afterwards 
one of the crowd that followed him offered him a bowl of tea, 
which he drank without the slightest hesitation. Such things 
excited the greatest admiration for him, and when he was re- 
moved from command his departure was witnessed with regret, 
and the natives long for his return. There is even a legend 
that on the anniversary of the capture of Tashkent people go 
to the Kamelan gate, where the storming took place, and pray 
for his soul. The people of Central Asia are in the habit of 

day, not passing by the appointed time an hour or even a minute. Let the Mullahs 
constantly go to their schools arid teach the laws of the Mohammedan faith, and 
not waste the time of their pupils by an hour or by a minute. Let children not 
for one hour miss their lessons, and let the teachers try to collect the children in 
school, and not give them hours of idleness, and in case of need use strong measures, 
even beating, to make them learn, and if the parents show carelessness in this, let 
them in accordance with the Mohammedan Shariat be brought to the Reis, the 
head of the city, or Kazi Kilian, and be well punished. Let the inhabitants of 
the country occupy themselves with their work. Let the people of the bazaar carry 
on their trade and not pass their time idly. Let every man carry on his own work. 
Let nothing be thrown into the streets, and let them be kept clean. Your Moham- 
medan religion forbids you to drink buza and whisky, to play at games of chance, 
or to be licentious, therefore beware and keep back from every innovation which is 
contrary to the laws of religion.' [Here follow various minute regulations about 
weights, measures, trade, &c] '.All the inhabitants of Tashkent, rich and poor, 
must exactly fulfil all that has been said above. Houses, gardens, fields, lands, 
and water-mills, of which you have possesion, will remain your property. The 
soldiers will take nothing from you. You will not be made Russian Cossacks. 
There will be no quartering of soldiers on you. No one in service will come into 
your courtyards, or if he come let us know at once, and he will be punished. 
Great kindness is shown to you, and therefore you should pray for the health of 
the white Tsar. If any one kill anybody, or rob a merchant, he will be judged by 
Russian laws. If any one kill himself, his property goes to his heir according to 
the Shariat ; we will take none of his property. The tenth part which is taken 
from the products of Government land, I, the Governor Iskender Tchernaief, 
remit to you for the present year, but afterwards it will be in accordance with the 
will of our great white Tsar to show you according to his own disposition still 
greater kindness. 1282, 6th day of the month Safar (July 2, 1865).' 


giving nicknames to their rulers ; calling, for instance, Nasrullah 
Khan, the late Amir of Bukhara, ' the Butcher,' and the Khan 
of Khokand ' the dog.' The name of Tchernaief they meta- 
morphosed into Shir-Naib, ' the Lion Viceroy.' Some apparently 
mistook the name for a title, for the Bek of Jizakh in writing, 
in 1366, to General Eomanof sky began, ' To the newly-arrived 
Tchernaief from the White Tsar.' 




A merchant's house — L f .s furniture — Mussulman devotions — Dress — Food — 
Drinks — Narcotics— Native games — Sporting — Falcons — Horses — Vehi- 
cles — Singing — Musical instruments — Dances of boys — A dance of women 
— The festival of Zang-ata — Veneration for old trees — Circumcision — - 
Marriage — Wedding feasts — Divorce — Maladies of the Sarts — Cholera — 
Parasites — Medicines — Funerals — Mourning — Asiatic influence on Russia 
— Islam — Different sects of Mohammedans — Mosques and worship there — 
Religious orders — Visit to performances of Jahria — Education — Primary 
schools — Colleges — Their arrangements and studies — The Kazis — Native 
courts among the nomad and settled population — Mussulman law — Chris- 
tianity and Islam. 

From my numerous acquaintances I soon had an opportunity 
of obtaining an insight into Mussulman life at Tashkent, for 
I was taken to make visits, and was very frequently asked to 
little entertainments, or to go in the evening and take tea and 
pilaf. These entertainments are all very much alike, but let 
us take as an example an evening with Doda Mohammed. 

Going down through the bazaar we turn up hill into a street 
so narrow, and so full of large sharp stones, that it was evidently 
not made for wheels, and after some time come to another narrow 
lane, with its long reach of blank clay wall, for here no win- 
dows ever look into the street. Eventually, after two or three 
mistakes, we arrive at a small door which is half-open ; on 
calling out, three handsome lads in long loose shirts, girt with 
handkerchiefs round the waist, and close-fitting skull-caps, 
appear with smiling faces, greet us with the customary ' Aman,' 
and take our horses. We enter, and find a large court-yard 
nearly surrounded with sheds filled with horses — the only kind 
of stable which is used here. We are taken through another 
door into still another courtyard, on two sides of which are the 
balconies of the house. This is the tish-kari or man's court, 


and beyond, through a door and a narrow passage, is the itch- 
kari, or woman's court. Doda Mahammed, being rich, has 
as many as three courtyards, but no one who pretends to have a 
house at all has less than two ; for the women must have some 
place where they can be at their ease, and where men do not 
enter. * This man's court has a smooth hard clay floor, with 
little strips of turf, and on one side a platform raised a foot or 
eighteen inches above the ground, and near by a square pond, 
shaded by trees, which is fed by a little ditch from one of the 
main canals, and which provides the water for drinking as well 
as for purification. 

We are shown into the guest-room, where we sit on Turko- 
man rugs, which cover the floor; meanwhile, the air being 
pleasanter outside, other rugs are taken out and placed on the 
platform ; thin striped silken mattresses are laid along the 
edge, and pillows are given us to put our elbows on in case we 
find sitting too fatiguing. The natives sit at times cross-legged, 
but it is considered much more polite and respectful to kneel 
down and sit upon the feet. Tiresome as it is at first, one 
gradually becomes accustomed to it, though much depends 
upon the dress, and with the loose native trousers one finds it 
perfectly easy to do without chairs. The houses are all much 
alike; there is one large room opening on the portico, the 
guest-chamber, and opposite one or two smaller ones opening 
out of it. The living-rooms in the woman's court are in every 
respect similar to these. In each room there are two or three 
doors, with double leaves, opening inwardly, hung on a sort 
of pivot, let into the lintel and threshold instead of hinges, 
usually carved with delicate arabesques, in which work the 
natives have great proficiency. There are no windows, except 
oblong openings over the doors, sometimes filled in with a little 
lattice- work, and usually covered with white paper. The walls 
are plastered, and sometimes decorated with a pretty cornice in 
alabaster work, and usually have a large number of niches with 
arched tops, which serve as shelves for the few books, the clothes, 
jars of sweetmeats, ewers, and teapots. The walls are fre- 
quently painted with representations of fruit, bouquets or pots of 
wonderful flowers, and sometimes with small arabesques ; in rare 
cases there is the representation of some animal, but this is 
avoided, as being in contradiction to the injunctions of the 


Koran. The ceiling is made of small round willow-branches 
fitted between the rafters, and is usually painted a bright 
ultramarine blue, picked out with red and yellow, and even 
occasionally with a little gold, so that when nicely done it is 
really very beautiful. 

Besides the rugs and mattresses there is no furniture, except 
perhaps a small round table, a few inches in height, on which 
sweets and fruits are placed for the guests, or a carved or 
painted wooden cupboard. I should not omit one peculiarity : 
in the corner of the room there is very frequently a little basin, 
sunk a little below the floor, for the purpose of ablution before 
prayers, beside which a small ewer of water is placed. The 
floors themselves are of clay, though in all good houses well 
covered with rugs and carpets. In the outer court are kept all the 
things necessary for the horses, saddles, bridles, blankets, and 
so forth, and those objects which are specially used by men. 
In the dinner, or woman's court, are the cooking utensils, and 
the special articles of female use, besides bundles of cotton, 
silk, cloth, and all the articles which women gather about them. 
The women have no more furniture than is found on the men's 
side, except possibly a broad bed made of a wooden frame, raised 
but a few inches from the floor, over which a net work of rope 
is stretched. Most people, however, sleep on a rug, or a thin 
quilt or mattress laid on the floor. After trying a quantity of 
such beds on various occasions I began to understand how the 
prince in the Arabian tale could feel a pea under seven mat- 
tresses. Indeed, he would have been well hardened if he had 
not felt it. Externally the houses have no ornament, except 
possibly the carved pillars of the portico, and they often rest 
upon no foundation except the earth, being built immediately 
up from it, of sunburnt clay bricks. The roof is flat, made of 
reeds or thatch, and then thickly plastered over with clay, 
furnishing abode to innumerable scorpions, which are constant 
guests in the native houses, and occasionally to tarantulas and 
other venomous spiders. The houses are generally but of one 
story, though sometimes there is a small upper room, called bala- 
khana (Persian bala, or baliand, upper, and khana, room), 
whence we get our word balcony. 

When we get well seated on the platform a piece of striped 
coloured calico or silk is laid down, and trays of sweets are 


brought in to us. This is called a dostar-kkan (literally table- 
cloth), and is a necessary accompaniment to hospitality in Central 
Asia. The dishes consist of almonds and pistachio nuts, either 
alone or in sugar coverings, pastes and candies of various flavours, 
and known by the name of halvah, little cakes, and always 
the thin wafer- like bread which is eaten here. If fruit is to be 
had it is also introduced, and there are occasionally some rare 
sweet dishes, such as almonds in sugar-syrup, or rose-leaves 
preserved in honey, or one dish which is much liked here, 
carrots chopped fine in honey. While we tempt our appetite with 
these various delicacies we talk on various subjects, from com- 
mon acquaintance and the news of the day to points of religion 
or of local history. One native, a tall good-natured man of 
forty, amuses me immensely, for he has learned Eussian, and 
has taken a great fancy to Eussian society, knowing almost 
every lady in Tashkent by her Christian name ; he has even 
picked up a few words of French, with which he interlards his 
conversation. It is now, however, towards sunset, and om- 
en tertainers, without any excuse, one by one retire to the pond to 
perform their ablutions, for everyone has carefully to wash his face 
and hands and his arms up to the elbows. It is amusing to see 
what dexterity is acquired by a little practice ; the hand is raised, 
there is one twirl of the wrist, and the water runs evenly from 
the hand to the elbow. In drinking too, the Asiatic applies 
his mouth to the hollow at the wrist, and not a drop is wasted. 
Each arm must be washed three times, and then there is a 
triple ablution of the face, ' including all the seven orifices,' 
eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, and as far back as to the nape of the 
neck. After this it is the turn of the feet, but this is an 
amusing example of formality and practice. The men, as a 
general rule, object to taking off their boots, and merely draw 
their wet fingers over the toes, as a symbol that their feet 
have been washed. They then put on their turbans, pull the 
dangling end well down over the left side, and standing on a 
carpet or a clean robe spread on the ground, with their faces 
towards Mecca, they repeat their prayers. On this occasion, 
the prayer is a short one, the Namaz Digar, said immediately 
before sunset. There is not the slightest hesitation or feeling 
of shamefacedness because foreigners are present, but the re- 
ligious duty is gone through as a matter of course. They then 


return to our company, but so soon as the sun has set it becomes 
necessary to repeat the second evening prayer, or Namaz Shara^ 
though additional ablution is not in this case practised, the 
effects of the former one lasting at least ten minutes. There 
are five prayers during the day, which every Mussulman is bound 
to observe : the Namaz Bomdat, immediately before sunrise : 
the Namaz Pishim, about noon, though an hour or two later 
makes no difference ; the Namaz Digar, of which I spoke, just 
before sunset ; the Namaz Sham, immediately after ; and about 
nine o'clock in the evening the Namaz Hoftan, which is the 
signal for sleep. This last prayer is the longest, but none of 
them are long. These names of the prayers are those used in 
Central Asia, though not those sanctioned by Mussulman law. 
Popular usage has given to each a rhyme, specifying some daily 
duty which is coincident in time, as for instance : namaz digar 
kari digar, put the kettle on ; hoftan-horaftan, go to bed ; 
sham, light the candles. 

Prayers being over, Doda Mohammed and his friends find 
it more comfortable in this hot weather to take off their 
turbans, and sit merely in their little embroidered skull-caps, 
even taking these off to cool their shaven skulls. The dress ot 
the Central Asiatic is very simple. He wears loose baggy 
trousers, usually made of coarse white cotton stuff, fastened 
tightly round the waist with a cord, and tassel ; this is a neces- 
sary article of dress, and is never or rarely taken off, at all 
events not in the presence of another. Frequently when men 
are at work this is the only garment, and in that case it is 
gradually turned up under the cord or rolled up on the legs, so 
that the person is almost naked. Over this is worn a long shirt, 
either white or of some light-coloured print, reaching almost to 
the feet, and with a very narrow aperture for the neck, which 
renders it somewhat difficult to put the head through. The 
sleeves are long and loose. Beyond this there is nothing more 
but what is called the tchapan, varying in number according 
to the weather or the whim of the person. The tchapan is a 
loose gown cut very sloping in the neck, with strings to tie it 
together in front, and inordinately large sleeves, made with an 
immense gore, and about twice as long as is necessary, exceed- 
ingly inconvenient, but useful to conceal the hands, as Asiatic 
politeness dictates. In summer these are usually made of 


Kussian prints, or of the Dative alatcha, a striped cotton 
material, or of silk, either striped or with most gorgeous 
Eastern patterns in bright colours, especially red, yellow, and 
green. I have sometimes seen men with as many as four 01 
five of these gowns even in summer ; they say that it keeps out 
the heat. In winter one gown will frequently be made of cloth, 
and lined with fine lambskin or fur. The usual girdle is a 
large handkerchief or a small shawl ; at times a long scarf 
wound several times tightly round the waist. The Jews in 
places under native rule are allowed no girdle but a bit of rope 
or cord, as a mark of ignominy. From the girdle hang the acces- 
sory knives and several small bags and pouches, often prettily em- 
broidered, for combs, money, &c. On the head, there is a skull- 
cap ; these in Tashkent are always embroidered with silk ; in 
Bukhara they are usually worked with silk or worsted in cross- 
stitch, in gay patterns. The turban, called tchil-petch or ' forty 
turns,' is very long ; and if the wearer has any pretence to 
elegance it should be of fine thin material, which is chiefly im- 
ported from England. It requires considerable experience to 
wind one properly round the head so that the folds will be well 
made, and the appearance fashionable. One extremity is left to 
fall over the left shoulder, but is usually, except at prayer-time, 
tucked in over the top. Should this end be on the right 
shoulder it is said to be in the Afghan style. I have said that 
the majority of turbans are white, and this is true in Tashkent, 
though white is especially the colour of the Mullahs and reli- 
gious people, whose learning is judged by the size of their 
turbans. In general merchants prefer blue, striped, or chequered 
material. At home the men usually go barefooted, but on 
going out wear either a sort of slippers with pointed toes and 
very small high heels, or long soft boots, the sole and upper 
being made of the same material. In the street one must in 
addition put on either a slipper or galosh, or wear riding-boots, 
made of bright green horse-hide, with turned-up pointed toes 
and very small high heels. 

The dress of the women in shape and fashion differs but 
little from that of the men, as they wear similar trousers and 
shirts, though in addition they have long gowns, usually of 
bright-coloured silk, which extends from the neck to the ground. 
Tboy wear an innumerable quantity of necklaces and little 


amulets, pendents in their hair, and earrings, and occasionally 
even a nose-ring. This is by no means so ugly as is supposed : 
a pretty girl with a turquoise ring in one nostril is not at all 
unsightly ; on the contrary, there is something piquant in it. 
Usually when outside of the houses all respectable women wear 
a heavy black veil, reaching to their waists, made of woven 
horsehair, and over that is thrown a dark blue or green khalat, 
the sleeves of which, tied together at the ends, dangle behind. 
The theory of this dull dress is, that the women desire to 
escape observation, and certainly for that purpose they have 
devised the most ugly and unseemly costume that could be 
imagined. They are, however, very inquisitive, and occasionally 
in by-streets one is able to get a good glance at them before 
they pull down their veils. The look of an infidel, or Kaffir, is 
not supposed to be so injurious to them as that of a Mussul- 

In the towns under native rule the morals of the people are 
thoroughly looked after by the officials, but in Tashkent and 
other Eussian towns there are increasing numbers of women of 
loose character and morals, for many native women take up 
this life rather than live with husbands whom they do not love, 
and even to get a divorce they will pretend to be ill and go to 
the Russian hospital to be examined by the doctors, a proceed- 
ing which of course disgusts their husbands, and renders a 
separation possible and easy. These women are always un- 
veiled, and are seen constantly walking in the streets, or riding 
on carts to pic-nics or places of pleasure, and from them one 
soon gets some idea of the female type. It is perhaps un- 
fortunate that the unveiling of the women has begun with that 
class, because now no respectable woman dares to go unveiled, 
and even the Jewish and Tartar wo™en wear veils to preserve 
themselves from disagreeable remar. > as they pass through the 
streets. It is believed that if General Tchernaief at the 
capture of Tashkent had ordered the women to go without 
their veils, the command would have been readily acquiesced 
in, but now it is somewhat difficult to bring about such a 
reform by external pressure, and it is not easy to know when 
the Mussulmans themselves will become sufficiently enlightened 
to allow their wives to show themselves in public. 

But while my friends have been discussing the last scandal 

PILAF. 125 

woman who unsuccessfully demands a divorce from her 
husband, who refuses to live with her, but has just married an 
unveiled woman, and questions are raised as to who is the 
proper person to bring it before the Kazi, for the woman her- 
self is kept prisoner in the house — and while I have been ex* 
amining their dress and thinking about their wives, supper 
has been brought in. It consists of pilaf or palau, a dish 
composed of rice and mutton. Its preparation is very simple : 
a quantity of mutton tallow or fat is melted in a pot, and the 
mutton, after being cut into pieces, is stewed in this ; when the 
meat is cooked it is taken out, and the rice, which has been 
properly washed and cleaned, is put in and stewed until done ; 
with this are mixed usually small thin slicings of carrot, and 
the whole is turned out on a large platter, the pieces of meat 
and bones being placed artistically on the top. One of the 
company then takes his knife from his girdle and cuts the 
meat into smaller pieces, distributing it at different sides of 
the rice, so as to be convenient for the guests. Everyone eats 
with the right hand (as the left is destined for more menial 
services), taking up the rice with his fingers, pressing it into a 
ball in the palm of his hand, and skilfully thrusting it into his 
mouth. If it be a grand feast the pilaf is occasionally im- 
proved by having a chicken cooked with it, in place of the 
mutton, and raisins and pistachio nuts are added. An occa- 
sional dish of pilaf ', with plenty of salt and pepper, is pleasant, 
but it is too greasy and insipid to be long agreeable to an 
European palate. Other native dishes are kavardak, composed 
of scraps of mutton stewed in grease, together with pieces of 
bread, and Jcavap (a name which is naturalised with us as cabobs), 
small bits of meat roasted on a spit, and a hash of mutton and 
carrots, which is not bad • I have frequently eaten also tckush- 
vara^pilmen and nantyf nutton mixed with onions and thickly 
sprinkled with pepper, enclosed in paste, and boiled or stewed. 
Mutton is almost the only meat. Horse-flesh — on which, as 
all storybooks inform us, Tartars exclusively feed — I never saw 
used, and when I spoke of it everyone denied having eaten it., 
but said that it was very common in some other place. I once, 
in passing through a small village, saw a horse being cut up, 
apparently for food, by Kirghiz, and I was told that the horse- 
sausages and roast young colt of Khokand were celebrated, but 


I never could get a taste. The bread, which is usually of wheat, 
is made very small and round like a bun, and is cooked by 
being plastered on to the side of a round oven. Sometimes it 
is very large and very thin, like a tremendous wafer, and when 
fresh is very good. 

For drink there is nothing but water and green tea. It is 
always considered necessary to drink water after eating pilaf, 
for the natives say the rice has to be planted in water : it 
grows in water, it is boiled in water, and consequently one 
must drink water with it. Grreen tea. — for black tea was not 
known here till the Eussians came — is drunk at all times of 
the day, and is sometimes very good ; it is certainly a great 
restorative on a warm day, as it cools rather than heats one, 
and though I drank it often I found that I experienced no bad 
effects from it. A favourite drink, especially in the early 
morning, is shirin-tchai, green tea thick with cream or melted 
tallow. The Koran prohibits the use of wines or other liquors, 
and none are to be had here, though now the natives, except 
of the strictest principles, rarely refuse a glass of liquor when 
offered by a Eussian, and the Jews have long been known to 
make a coarse red wine. It is strange, however, that with all 
the different fruits which abound in this country the natives 
have not invented some cooling fruity drink which would not 
have intoxicating powers. There is a liquor something like 
beer made from grain, called buza, which is very intoxicating, 
having a stupefying effect, and is much used by the Kirghiz. If 
I may judge of buza from one trial, the taste is not unpleasant. 
The effects of this drink have been found so great on the 
Eussian soldiers that an attempt has been made to stop its 
sale in Tashkent. Twice I wandered through the Kirghiz 
quarter vainly asking for buza, but no one knew where it was 
made or could be had, though several whom we asked were 
evidently tipsy from it. At last a boy, after a great display of 
ignorance as to the drink, admitted having some in a jug ha 
was carrying, and permitted us to taste it. Sometimes on hot 
days sour milk is drunk mixed with water, and in Tashkent 
one can get the kwmys, or liquor made of mare's milk, which is 
so much drunk by the Kirghiz on the Steppe. At intervals the 
tchilim, or Bukharan water-pipe, is passed round, for Doda 
Mohammed is not a puritan and smokes. This pipe, which is 


in principle the same as the nargileh, is usually made of a 
gourd prettily mounted in brass, with a long tube coming up 
through the water, which holds at the top a small earthern oi, 
brass receptacle for the coals and tobacco, and on the side a 
similar tube for the mouth-piece. The mouth-pipe is often 
wanting, and the smoker must apply his lips directly to the 
hole in the gourd, but he needs much practice before he can 
draw up the smoke, and then place his finger on the opposite 
orifice and get a good whiff. Tobacco is chiefly used by the 
natives in the form of a fine dark green powder, varying in 
colour according to the quality, of which a small quantity is 
placed on the tongue and sucked or chewed. This tobacco, if 
the user can afford it, is carried in a small bottle of Chinese 
jade or nephrite, but more usually in a very small gourd fitted 
with a stopper.. Snuff, as such, I rarely saw used. Opium is 
smoked by some, but it is rather rare in Tashkent, and only 
persons very far gone in dissipation would indulge in this taste. 
The narcotic which is usually smoked is bang, which is pre- 
pared from the Indian hemp. Another substance frequently 
used for its narcotic effects is kukhnar, a liquor made by soaking 
in water the bruised capsules of the poppy after the seeds have 
been taken out; this is a dark brownish liquor with an intensely 
bitter taste, and when taken habitually it produces very bad 
effects. Temporary exhilaration is soon succeeded by stupe- 
faction, and that by nervous prostration. The kukhnar drinker 
is soon forced to take large quanties several times a day, and 
to use the greatest caution in his diet ; above all he must 
abstain from very hot and from very sour drinks. 

At last the time came for us in the forms of Tashkent 
politeness to ask permission of our host to retire. Hands were 
pressed on each side, and the whole company, with candles and 
small iron lamps, in form like those from Pompeii, saw us to 
our horses. 

As we were riding homeward through the moonlit streets I 
asked my friend the Mullah Hair-ullah what were the amuse- 
ments of Mussulmans. His answer was that he himself read 
or sometimes made translations, or said his prayers, but that 
in Central Asia people had no amusements. The men occupy 
themselves with their horses or sometimes shoot, but otherwise, 
he said, with the exception of festivals, where a large number of 


persons were collected together, and where dancing sometimes 
took place, there were no amusements of any kind, and people 
passed their days in sleeping or in conversation. ' But the 
children ? ' I said. ' Our religion, you know,' he replied, ' forbids 
children to have any toys. Their studies must be directed 
towards religion and towards war, and for that reason they may 
be allowed to ride, and may use the bow and the gun, but 
nothing else.' This method of education, which reminds one of 
how Xenophon said that the Persian boys were taught to ride, 
to use the bow, and to speak the truth, is, however, not 
thoroughly carried out in practice, for I have often seen the 
boys in Tashkent and Samarkand playing games similar to 
those played in Europe, and especially a game with knuckle- 
bones, which is quite as common in Central Asia as it is in 
Kussia, and another game where bones are placed at intervals 
on the ground, and the players, standing off at some distance, 
toss another bone at them, pocketing as many as they are able 
to knock down and displace. Grirls have dolls roughly made 
of rags, and commonly play ball. Chess is frequently played, and 
in Samarkand there is a great deal of gambling and betting, 
with cards, dice, and especially at odds and evens, for which 
last game some even have a real passion, constantly tossing 
little stones from one hand to another and rapidly counting 
them. Cards were first brought from Kussia, although long 
before the Eussian occupation, and most of the games played 
are those which are favourites with the Russian peasantry ana 
merchants. A very common gambling game is, for a group of 
men to sit in a circle, each placing before him a copper coin, 
and bets are then made as to whose coin will first have a fly on 
it. At the Yak bazaar at Tashkent, for a fortnight during the 
early spring, there are wrestling matches. 

The chase is rarely practised by city dwellers, though all 
who live in the country indulge in it, especially with falcons, 
which are here trained in large quantities for this purpose, as 
well as other birds of prey of all kinds, and even large eagles. 
A matchlock, which is the most common firearm, is an uncom- 
fortable article of sporting equipment, because it is large and 
heavy, the barrel being very long and solid, and takes a long 
time to reload. The match is so placed that on pulling the 
trigger it drops down into the priming-pan. The matchlock is 

HORSES. 129 

usually provided with two supports, so that it cau be rested on 
the ground, and in this case, as the supports are short, it is 
necessary for the marksman to lie at full length. I have seen 
men who were very good shots, and on one of my visits to him 
I remember that Jura Bek stood on the portico, and leaning 
the matchlock against a column, took the head off a sparrow at 
the top of a large tree. Jura Bek too shot very well with the 
blow-gun, a weapon which I was surprised to see, as I was not 
aware that it was used in Asia, though he told me that in 
Shahrisabs it was very common. It is a long tube, usually of 
reed, in which a small bullet is put in at one end and expelled 
by the breath, and its use is much less difficult than one might 
suppose, requiring no great expenditure of wind. 

All Uzbeks are extremely fond of horses, and they certainly 
have some remarkably good ones, the two chief breeds here being 
the Kirghiz and the Argamak. The Kirghiz horse is a small 
hardy animal, capable of enduring the extremes of cold and 
heat, and of going long distances without fatigue ; it is much 
fche same as the little Cossack horses which are used on the 
Ural, and which are frequently seen in St. Petersburg. The 
Argamak is probably a mixed breed, the best being found in 
Bukhara. The animal is rather large, but slightly built, and 
for short distances is very fast ; but it is fitter for show than 
for use. A good Argamak will command a very large price, 
but the horses in common use, which seem to be of a mixed 
breed, are by no means dear, thirty rubles being an average price. 
Another breed, Kara-bair, made by crossing an Argamak with 
a Kirghiz mare, is highly esteemed. The Turkoman horses, 
which are not seen at all in Tashkent, are still different 
from the Argamaks, being of purer breed and more like 
the Arabian horses, and are capable of undergoing any amount 
of fatigue and hardship. A thoroughly good Turkoman 
horse it would be almost impossible to buy, as only great 
necessity would make its owner part with it. The bridles 
in use are of the ordinary description, with a rough, jointed bit ; 
the saddle is very small, made of wood, brightly painted red or 
green, and with a sharp peak flattened at the top, which is 
made of bone or ivory, with which substance the edges of the 
saddle also are inlaid. Quantities of elk-horns are brought 
from beyond Lake Issyk-kul to Tashkent, to be used in the 
VOL. I. k 


manufacture of saddles. The natives always use a saddle-cloth, 
which is frequently of velvet, richly embroidered with gold and 
silver. A horse would not be permitted to go from the stable 
unless it wore round its neck one or two carved wooden balls called 
didaneh, from the wood-thorn (Crataegus) of which they are 
made, which are considered an amulet against all evil influences. 
Asses are in Tashkent nearly as common as horses, and in 
Bukhara, seem to be still more used, while in Khokand one 
rarely meets any. They are small, usually white or grey, and 
capable of bearing very heavy burdens. Of course one sees 
everywhere in the streets numbers of camels. 

The only vehicle used by the natives is a large wide cart on 
two immense wheels, called an arba. The wheels are very 
roughly constructed with wide felloes and heavy spokes, usually 
made of elm-wood, and without tires. The shafts are pro- 
longations of the main body, which rest on a wide strap over 
the back of the horse, where the driver sits on a small saddle, 
with his feet on the shafts instead of taking his place in the 
cart. Sometimes these arbas are covered with matting, and 
although the vehicle is rude yet it is comfortable, because on 
account of the great size of the wheels the inequalities of the 
road are not much noticed. 

Dogs occupy a very anomalous position in the Sart house- 
hold. While there is at least one in every family they are not 
petted, but rather ill-treated, as according to Mussulman ideas 
they are unclean, and they are rarely fed, but are left to pick 
up their own living, and are consequently lean, gaunt, and 
half-starved. Why they should be kept at all it is difficult to 
understand, unless for their use as watch-dogs. Both night 
and day they are prowling about the walls and house-tops, and 
keeping the street in a continual uproar at the passing stranger. 
Cats, on the contrary, are petted and protected, and beautiful 
specimens are frequently seen, especially the graceful creatures 
of the Bukharan breed, with long silky hair and bushy tails 
Pet birds are very common, particularly small quails, which 
aie kept and trained to fight, and every youth of fashion 
carries a quail or some similar small bird on his hand or in his 

In spite of what my friend the Mullah said about the 
dearth of amusements I found that music and dancing have 


their votaries in Central Asia as well as elsewhere. The Sarta 
are especially fond of singing, and they will sit for hours to- 
gether listening to a monotonous song with the accompaniment 
of a two-stringed guitar, or to the half-chanted recitation of 
some poem, while at night, when the shops of the bazaar are 
nearly all shut, gayer and livelier airs are sung to the clapping 
of hands or the beating of a tambourine or even of a brass salver, if 
nothing else is obtainable. The voices are bad, and in general 
their music is tasteless to an European ear, for the constant 
use of intervals, which to us are not only unmelodic, but im- 
possible to be expressed by our system of notation, makes it seem 
to us false and discordant. The notes B and E of the scale, for 
instance, are nearer half-way between A and C and D and F 
than they are with us, and there is a frequent use of fourths of 
a tone, so that in an octave there are far more than the regular 
thirteen sounds. Yet after being accustomed to this mode of 
music it is possible to perceive many pleasing and striking airs. 
The music I heard in the towns was so different in character from 
the Kirghiz songs of the Steppe, that I am inclined to believe 
that it has its origin in Persia, from which country the musical 
instruments were certainly brought. The chief stringed instru- 
ment, which is called dutara (a Persian word, from du, two, and 
tar a, string), is of the same general shape as a guitar, and is 
played by the hand ; the strings are usually of fine wire. The 
sitara (Persian si, three, and tar a, string) has, as its name 
indicates, three strings, and is usually played on with a bow 
like a violin. The tchetara; or four-stringed instrument is, I 
am told, also used. These names show us very plainly the 
Persian origin of the Latin cithara and our guitar. I saw 
once or twice another stringed instrument, the kemangeh, 
where the strings proceeded from a long metal foot and are 
drawn over a sounding-board made of a cocoa-nut, with about 
one-third cut off. This is also played with a bow. Of other 
instruments, one of the most usual, and which is always used 
for dance-music, is a large tambourine covered with goat-skin, 
which is tossed up in both hands, and played on with the flat 
of the fingers. The edge is fitted with jingling bits of metal, 
and the player constantly holds the instrument over a pan of 
coals to make it more resonant. This tambourine is called 
tchilmanda in Tashkent and on the northern side of the Svr 

K 2 


Darya, while on the other side, in Samarkand and Bukhara, it 
is known by the Persian name, daira. The surnai is a pipe 
like a clarionet, made of apricot-wood, about two feet long, in 
the small opening of which there is a brass pipe called a 7iil % 
which has a mouthpiece of reed, and close to the mouthpiece a 
brass disk, which serves as a support to the lips of the player. 
The farther end of this pipe, when it is not played on, is 
stopped up with a brass rod, and two small wooden disks are 
attached to it by a chain, which cover up the mouthpiece. The 
kornai is a large brass trumpet six or seven feet long, swelling 
greatly at the farther end, and giving only one unearthly deep 
bass note. Two trumpets of different keys are generally used at 
the same time. The nagora consists of two drums of different 
sizes, made of small earthenware vessels covered with skins 
fastened on by a network of little straps, and joined together. 
The smaller drum has a thicker skin, and its sound is called zil, 
or wooden ; the larger, with a thinner skin, gives a more pro- 
longed sound, called bum. The drums are played on in turn 
with two sticks. Among the Kirghiz the favourite instrument 
is the ordinary Jew's-harp, which bears the very appropriately 
founding name of tchang. 

In Central Asia Mohammedan prudery prohibits the public 
dancing of women ; but as the desire of being amused and of 
witnessing a graceful spectacle is the same all the world over, 
here boys and youths specially trained take the place of the 
dancing-girls of other countries. The moral tone of the society 
of Central Asia is scarcely improved by the change. 

These hatchets, or dancing-boys, are a recognised institution 
throughout the whole of the settled portions of Central Asia, 
though they are most in vogue in Bukhara, and the neighbour- 
ing Samarkand. In the khanate of Khokand public dances 
have for some years been forbidden — the formerly licentioua 
Khan having of late put on a semblance of morality and severity, 
and during my month's stay in that country I saw no amuse- 
ments of any kind among the natives. In Tashkent batchas 
flourished until 1872, when a severe epidemic of cholera in- 
duced the Mullahs to declare that dancing was against the pre- 
cepts of the Koran, and at the request of the leaders of the 
native population, the Russian authorities forbade public dances 
during that summer, on account of the vast crowds which they 


always drew together. It was impossible, however, for the 
pleasure-loving Sarts to hold out in their abstinence for more 
than one year, and the mere rumour that there would be a 
bazem, or dance, was sufficient to draw great crowds to the 
garden where it was expected to take place. In Khodjent and 
Samarkand no restrictions have ever been placed on public 
dancing, and it is not an uncommon spectacle. These batchas 
are as much respected as the greatest singers and artistes are 
with us. Every movement they make is followed and applauded, 
and I have never seen such breathless interest as they excite, 
for the whole crowd seems to devour them with their eyes, 
while their hands beat time to every step. If a batcha con- 
descends to offer a man a bowl of tea, the recipient rises to take 
it with a profound obeisance, and returns the empty bowl in 
the same way, addressing him only as 6 TaxirJ ' your Majesty,' 
or 4 kullukj 1 1 am your slave.' Even when abatcha passes through 
the bazaar all who know him rise to salute him with hands 
upon their hearts, and the exclamation of ' Kulluk ! ' and should 
he deign to stop and rest in any shop it is thought a great 

In all large towns batchas are very numerous, for it is as 
much the custom for a Bokhariot gentleman to keep one as it 
was in the Middle Ages for each knight to have his squire. 
In fact no establishment of a man of rank or position would be 
complete without one ; and men of small means club together 
to keep one among them, to amuse them in their hours of 
rest and recreation. They usually set him up in a tea-shop, 
and if the boy is pretty his stall will be full of customers all 
day long. Those batchas, however, who dance in public are 
fewer in number, and are now to some extent under police re- 
strictions. In Kitab there were only about a dozen, in other 
towns even less, and the same dancers sometimes go from place 
to place. They live either with their parents or with the 
entrepreneur, who takes care of them and always accompanies 
them. He dresses them for the different dances, wraps them 
up when they have finished, and looks after them as well as 
any duenna. 

At the hour appointed for the bazem, the boys begin 
to come in twos and threes, accompanied by their guardians, 
and after giving their hands to their host take their placet 


on one edge of the carpet, sitting in the Asiatic respectful 
way upon the soles of their feet. Bowls of tea and trays of 
fruit and sweets are set before them. The musicians meanwhile 
tune their tambourines, or rather increase their resonance, by 
holding them over a pan of glowing coals. When the boya 
have devoured enough grapes and melons the dancing begins. 
This is very difficult to describe. With flowing robe of 
bright-coloured variegated silk, loose trousers, and bare feet, 
and two long tresses of hair streaming from under his em- 
broidered scull-cap, the batcha begins to throw himself into 
graceful attitudes, merely keeping time with his feet and hands 
to the beating of the tambourines and the weird monotonous 
song of the leader. Soon his movements become wilder, and 
the spectators all clap their hands in measure ; he circles madly 
about, throwing out his arms, and after turning several sum- 
mersaults kneels facing the musicians After a moment's pause 
he begins to sing in reply to the leader, playing his arms in 
graceful movements over his head. Soon he rises, and, with 
body trembling all over, slowly waltzes about the edge of the 
carpet, and with still wilder and wilder motions again kneels 
and bows to us. A thrill and murmur of delight runs through 
the audience, an extra robe is thrown over him, and a bowl of 
tea handed to him as he takes his seat. This first dance is 
called katta-uin (the great play), in contradistinction to the 
special dances. The natives seem most pleased with those 
dances where the batcha is dressed as a girl, with long braids 
of false hair and tinkling anklets and bracelets. Usually but 
one or two in a troop can dance the women's dance, and the 
female attire once donned is retained for the remainder of the 
feast, and the batcha is much besought to sit here and there 
among the spectators to receive their caresses. Each dance 
has its special name — Afghani, Shirazi, Kashgari — according to 
the characteristics of the country where it is national or of the 
story it is supposed to represent ; but all are much alike, 
differing in rapidity, or in the amount of posture and gesture. 
The younger boys usually perform those dances which have 
more of a gymnastic character, with many summersaults and 
hand-springs ; while the elder and taller ones devote themselves 
more to posturing, slow movements, and amatory and lascivious 
gestures. The dance whioh pleased me most, and which I saw 


for the first time in Karghi, was the Kabuli, a sort of gymnastic 
game, where two boys armed each with two wands strike them 
constantly in alternate cadence, while performing complicated 
figures, twists, and summersaults. In general but one boy 
dances at a time, and rarely more than two together, these 
being usually independent of eacli other. 

The dances, so far as I was able to judge, were by no means 
indecent, though they were often very lascivious. One of the 
most frequent gestures was that of seizing the breast in the 
hand and then pretending to throw it to the spectators, similar 
to our way of throwing kisses. In some dances the batcha goes 
about with a bowl of tea, and choosing one of the spectators, 
offers the tea to him with entreating gestures, sinks to the 
floor, singing constantly a stanza of praise and compliment. 
The favoured man hands back the bowl with thanks, but the 
boy slips from his proffered embrace, or shyly submits to be 
kissed, and is off to another. If the spectator is generous he 
will drop some silver coins into the empty bowl, and if he is a 
great lover of this amusement he will take a golden tilla in his 
lips, and the batcha will put up his lips to receive it, when a 
kiss may perhaps be snatched. 

The songs sung during the dances are always about love, 
and are frequently responsive between the batcha and the 
musicians. These will serve as specimens : — 

1 Tchuyandy, my soul ! what has become of thee ? Why 
didst thou not come ? ' 'An ill-natured father kept me ; but 
I was in love with thee, and could not endure separation.' 

• Tchuyandy, my soul ! why didst thou delay, if thou wert 
sad ? ' ' Nightingale ! I am sad I As passionately as thou 
lovest the rose so loudly sing, that my loved one may awake. 
Let me die in the embrace of my dear one, for I envy no one. 
I know that thou hast many lovers ; but what affair of mine is 
that ? The rose would not wither if the nightingale did not 
win it ; and man would not perish did not death come.' 

The batchas practise their profession from a very early age 
until sometimes so late as twenty or twenty-five, or at all events 
until it is impossible to conceal their beards. The life which 
they have led hardly fits them for independent existence there- 
after. So long as they are young and pretty they have their 
own way in everything; every command is obeyed by their 


adorers, every purse is at their disposition, and they fall into a 
life of caprice, extravagance, and dissipation. Earely do they 
lay up any money, and more rarely still are they able to prolit 
by it afterwards. Frequently a batcha is set up as a keeper of 
a tea-house by his admirers, where he will always have a good 
clientele, and sometimes he is started as a small merchant. 
Occasionally one succeeds, and becomes a prosperous man, 
though the remembrance of his past life will frequently place 
the then odious affix, batcha, to his name. I have known one 
or two men, now rich and respected citizens, who began life in 
this way. In the old days it was much easier, for a handsome 
dancer might easily become Kushbegi, or Grand Vizier. More 
often a batcha takes to smoking opium or drinking kukhnar, 
and soon dies of dissipation. 

It is not only boys who dance in Central Asia, girls and 
women do so as well ; but their exhibitions are in general con- 
fined to the women's court. On one occasion, however, Asu- 
dullah Bek invited me to see a splendid tomasha, or spectacle 
— a dance of women — a thing looked on with orthodox horror by 
most Mussulmen ; but Asudullah Bek, being a Persian and a 
Shiite, was rather more lax in his notions than the rest, though 
even he was desirous that the fame of this should not be much 
noised abroad among his patients. Still, when the performance 
came off the noise of the tambourines and pipes was so great 
that a large portion of the city crowded to his garden, so that we 
had to have Cossacks there to keep them away. We went about 
sunset, and soon several women made their appearance, to 
whom we of course gave a share of the fruits and sweets which 
were provided for us, and had tea served to them. One of these 
women was a sister of the wife of Malla Khan, the former ruler 
of Khokand, and had here been married to some distinguished 
Khokandian official. It was curious to notice the deference 
with which she was received by the other women, who always 
rose to salute her or pass her a bowl of tea ; even in her fallen 
state she seemed to have claims to their respect. After a while 
a girl of thirteen, with a pretty dark face and bright black 
eyes, though her beauty was spoiled by an indiscreet use of 
cosmetics — for her eyebrows were turned into one dark line, and 
the rouge was very prominent on her cheeks — came out to 
danco. Her dress was a loose bright red silk robe, and her hair 


hung about her neck in a dozen small braids. Her head was 
covered with a long silken scarf hanging behind like a veil, 
fastened with ornaments of silver, and she wore earrings rilled 
with torquoise and coloured glass. Her feet were bare. She 
slowly circled on the carpet, bowing first to one and then 
another, and as the beats of the tambourine became faster her 
motions became more rapid, and after whirling round a dozen 
times she sank to the ground, much to the delight of the spec- 
tators. Then rising again she commenced a slowly swaying move- 
ment, and with arms swinging in cadence completed the circle 
of the carpet three or four times, again whirled about, and once 
more sat upon the ground. She was succeeded by others, and 
the dances were very similar to those danced by boys, though 
less vigorous and less graceful ; and there was little variety in 
style until a little girl of eleven — for the most of them were 
very young, a girl of eighteen being already an old woman — 
began to perform a dance much more passionate than the rest. 
At intervals she would kneel before one of the spectators, swing 
her arms as if in invitation, and, as it were, make motions of 
enchantment, each time leaning nearer and nearer to him, until 
finally, when the enchantment was supposed to be at its height, 
he was expected to give a kiss, and the dance was ended. 
Though the enchantment might be practised upon many the 
kiss was reserved for only one, for the girl would extricate her- 
self like a snake from the proposed embrace and immediately 
be on her knees before another. 

I have said that the Mussulmans in general disapprove of 
the dancing of women, yet they do not refuse to witness it if 
they get an opportunity ; and many a one slipped through 
the guards at the gate and came up and joined our circle, and 
from these the applause was perhaps the loudest. 

A very common attendant of a bazem, is the exhibition 
of a maskarabash, or comedian, who, with whitened face 
and the addition of a rug or some rags, and the help of 
a bystander, will represent various scenes of native life, 
such as doctor and patient, Kazi and suitor, teacher and 
scholar, or will mimic dogs, cats, and other domestic animals. 
The most of these representations are of a very obscene cha- 
racter, though they are often very vivid as well as witty, and 
are approved wi*\h rounds of laughter. 


One of the last days of my stay in Tashkent was given up 
to the festival of Zang-ata, the great festival of the year for 
Tashkent and its vicinity. Zang-ata himself was a shepherd 
who belonged to the religious brotherhood of Khodrie, and died 
in the odour of sanctity in 1097. What his real name was the 
worshippers at his shrine were unable to tell me, but he is said 
to have been dark like a negro, and thus to have got the name 
Zang-ata, ' dark father.' He is the patron saint of Tashkent 
and of all the country round about, and his tomb is on the way 
to Samarkand, about eight miles from the town. The shrine, 
which is built over his grave, is very shabby, rendered all the 
more so by the rams' horns and long bits of dirty rag which 
every pilgrim has felt it a necessity to tie there on some stick 
or tree. Old trees, especially old mulberry trees, seem through- 
out Central Asia to be in great veneration, and the older and 
the deader they are the more bits of rag they have on them. 
The bits of rag are symbols of sacrifice, and the custom is pro- 
bably a survival of the primitive tree-worship. Cannot the Arbor 
secco, which Marco Polo and the other Asiatic travellers of the 
Middle Ages mention so often, be referred to some tree similarly 
venerated ? Near by is the tomb of the mother of Zang-ata, 
who especially patronises the women, and while the crowd of 
men about the tomb of the son is large a row of women may be 
seen weeping and wailing near the lattice of the mother's 
shrine. The shrine of the saint, however, is of very minor im- 
portance ; there is a large college, with arched portal and small 
rooms, for the accommodation of the Mullahs ; and more than 
this, there is a fine garden, with orchard, ponds, and canals, 
suited to the pic-nics and out-of-door feasts which necessarily 
accompany pilgrimages of piety into the country. 

The festival fell last year among the first days of September, 
and lasted three or four days. Everybody goes there, and 
Tashkent is deserted by nearly all except the women and a few 
young men whose love of intrigue determines them to remain 
in such company. As I was very anxious to see this feast we made 
up a little party of friends, including Jura Bek, and drove out 
there. The dust was something frightful, for the road was filled 
with arbas and equipages of all kinds, and men on horses and 
donkeys ; nowhere have I seen such a throng, unless perhaps 
on the Derby-day. The nearer we got the thicker it became ; 


people were returning as well as going, having perhaps already 
spent two days there, and got to the bottom of their holiday 
purses. At last we came to the gate, and the native policeman, 
who recognised us, could with difficulty force an opening through 
the crowd of talking and gesticulating pleasure-seekers. We at 
last got safely to the corner of the college, where we found our 
friend Mirza Yusuf, who had invited us to join his party. 
Some friends of his were Mullahs of the college, and we were 
made to feel at once that we were at home. We found our 
friends occupied the extreme corner of the arcade, which was 
cut off from the rest by awnings and curtains. Here we re- 
clined on cushions, after getting rid of the dust and dirt of the 
drive, and took tea, and our Mussulman friends were neither 
astonished nor shocked to see us bring out a bottle of red wine, 
though each stood somewhat in awe of the rest, so that no one 
was willing to share it with us. When we were a little rested 
we went beyond the college into a large grove, where was a very 
singular sight ; almost every available spot was occupied by 
tents and booths, the ground having been parcelled out before- 
hand, each person erecting a tent and running curtains about 
his little plot of ground, or several parties taking plots together 
and throwing them into one. Samovars were smoking every- 
where, and all along the brook were pots where pilaf was pre- 
paring. In almost every booth there was some one playing on 
the guitar and singing, and in very many could be heard the 
rapid beating of a tambourine and the measured clapping of 
hands, showing that there dancing was going on. All about 
us was an immense crowd of people who had no places for 
themselves, and had merely come to be amused, buying their 
melon or their bread from the itinerant vendors, or taking a 
bowl of tea or some kumys at one of the tea-houses. More 
solid food was provided by the kitchens, for it seemed as if every 
native restaurateur had come from the bazaar to fix himself 
here for a week. In the centre of all was a large pavilion which 
had been erected for the use of the authorities, and here I found 
the chief officials of Tashkent, who had come to amuse them- 
selves with the native sports. In front of this was a large 
enclosed space, where boys were constantly dancing to the music 
of a large native orchestra, while at intervals the Russian 
military bands scattered through the grounds struck in with 


airs from the c Grande Dnchesse ' and other operas of Offenbach's. 
The carouse was kept up until late that night; but by nine 
o'clock, in spite of a proffered supper with the officials, we had 
had enough, and were glad to take our dusty ride home again. 

Later on, to amuse the officers, the Eussian prefect of the 
district had some women dance, much to the horror of the 
Mussulmans that a religious festival should be so profaned. 
It was one of those little things shocking to native feeling 
which not all Eussian officials are careful enough to avoid. 
Such a dance was once before arranged on a public festivity 
when the Governor-General was present, but he was deceived by 
the story that the women who danced were the wives of the 
chief natives, who did this in his honour, and he even presented 
them with some silver cups and souvenirs, which were found 
the next day in various brothels. 

Perhaps the most important event in the life of a Mussul- 
man is circumcision. Before this he, of course, is born, 
washed, fed, and has received his name, but he does not form 
one of the body of orthodox believers until this necessary rite 
has been performed upon him. The birth and early life of the- 
child are accompanied by some curious practices. When a boy 
is born the midwife does not inform the mother of the sex until 
the afterbirth, on account of a tradition that out of joy it would 
be harder for her to endure the pain. The father, who may 
always be present, and usually is if he be fond of his wife, then 
buries, in case of a boy a mutton bone, and in case of a girl a 
rag doll, under the floor of the room where the birth took place, 
in the corner opposite to the door. The midwife then congratu- 
lates the parents and receive s presents. No shirt is put on the 
child until the fifth day. On the ninth day the grandmother of 
the child brings a cradle, which, with its belongings, she has 
prepared in advance, and the child is strapped in it on a bed of 
barley. It continues to use the cradle, and to be nursed until 
the birth of a second child. Until this ninth day, when it 
is placed in the cradle, a light is kept burning near it to 
ward off the evil eye. On this same day the mother rises from 
her bed and there is a great feast, varying according to the 
circumstances of the family. This is the only feast given 
for a girl. In order to escape evil influences the child should 
not be carried into the street until the fortieth day. When 


the hair of the child is cut for the first time, the locks are 
weighed against gold or silver, and the money is given to 
the poor. In Tashkent, and in general throughout Cen- 
tral Asia, boys are circumcised when they are between 
seven and ten years old, although it may be done at an 
earlier period, and sometimes through poverty it is deferred 
until later. As the circumcision feasts— tui — are very ex- 
pensive, and all the friends of the family have to be invited, it 
usually happens that two or three men have their sons circum- 
cised at the same time, in order to avoid expense. If the father 
is rich he naturally gives the feast himself. The boys' friends 
gather at some place and come in procession, all disguised and 
decked out with paper caps, wooden swords and paper shields, 
and masks made of melon-rind, and the boy who is to be 
circumcised is carried on the back of one of the elder boys, in 
case the feast is not in his own house ; if, however, it takes 
place at home, the boy is taken from the house through the 
streets in triumph and then back again. He is, however, in 
a state of unconsciousness, having had administered to him 
early in the morning a powerful narcotic, gul lean (literally 
flower-sugar), which is made of sugar-candy mixed with the sifted 
pollen from hop-flowers and reduced to a hard paste. When 
the guests are all assembled there is usually a grand banquet, 
with pilaf and all possible delicacies, and sometimes with sheep 
roasted whole. After this there are either dances or, what is 
more usual, the native comedians come in and perform a course 
of farces and impersonations for the amusement of the boys. 
This being over, the guests walk round the performers in a 
circle, throwing to them for their pay money or handkerchiefs 
or whatever they can afford with their right hand over their 
left shoulder. During the time of this feasting the boy is in 
the women's court, where he is dressed in his best clothes, and 
when the proper time arrives he is brought back to the meiv's 
court and laid upon the cushions — his father having collected 
all the best pillows and cushions which he has and spread 
them over with the richest materials in his possession. This 
bed is prepared in the guest-room, and the most distinguished 
of the guests sit about it. The operation is performed by a 
sharp razor, and gunpowder or fine wood-ashes are immediately 
placed on the wound, which heals in the course of two or three 



days. Tbe cries of the boy are drowned by shouts of ' Ai 
Musulman bulgan Kaffir ! ' i Hail, Mussulman ! Thou wert an 
unbeliever.' He is now a member of Islam, and nothing short 
of flagrant apostasy can prevent him from entering the paradise 
of the blessed. 

When a boy reaches the age of fifteen or sixteen, or some- 
times when he is even younger, his parents think it is time for 
him to get married, and look about them for a suitable match. 
Misalliances are greatly disliked among the Sarts, and it is 
desired that the family of the bride should be equal to that of 



the bridegroom. A Hodja, or descendant of Mohammed, for 
example, can marry only a Hodja's daughter, and among those 
of good blood it is rare — for the first wife at least — that any 
great inequality of birth is allowed. Grirls are considered 
marriageable between eleven and fifteen, and although according 
to the strict letter of the law, a girl of nine can be married, it 
is not well looked upon in Tashkent. Development is quick in 
these countries, and a woman of twenty-five or thirty is already 
old and ugly. The mother, or sister, or some female relative 
of the youth who is to be married, after having found what 
appears to be a suitable match, or at all events a girl who 


pleases the boy himself or his parents, goes to the girl's family 
and discusses the advantages of the marriage The match- 
maker is at once asked how much kalim will be given, and' she 
in her turn is anxious to know the amount of the dowry, as it 
is desired that the kalim and dowry should be nearly equal. It 
is commonly believed that the kalim, or money given by the 
husband, goes to the father of the wife, and that it is in the 
nature of purchase-money, but this is not correct ; the kalim is 
given to the wife herself, and it remains her property, so that 
in case of divorce from her husband she may have something 
to fall back upon. When the friend of the young man has 
carefully looked at the bride and found out all about her, she 
returns to the young man, and tells him about the appearance 
and manners of his future wife. In Tashkent the young man 
is then allowed to look at her without her veil, but only on 
giving his solemn word that he looks at her with the intention 
of marrying her, and not simply out of curiosity. 

After the consent has been obtained the kalim, in the 
quantity agreed upon between the families, is sent to the wife 
and with it the wedding presents. The kalim may be either in 
money, or in anything which may be lawfully considered pro- 
perty. It is not, however, absolutely necessary to pay the 
kalim before the marriage actually takes place, but the wife 
has the right to refuse all intercourse with her husband until it 
is paid ; and if, after the conditions of the marriage have been 
fixed, the husband withdraws from the contract, he is obliged 
to pay to the wife one-half of the amount agreed upon as kalim. 
The wedding presents are usually given by nines, which is 
looked upon as a sacred number, nine times nine being usually 
the largest number that is given. The number nine is used 
with regard to other presents, as those given to guests or in 
exchange of hospitality. After the presents have been given 
and received the wedding-day is fixed. The bride then gives 
a feast to her friends, and the young man also gives a feast to 
his comrades, each at their own houses. On the day of the 
marriage a grand feast is held at the house of the bride's family, 
and all the friends and relations of both parties are invited, 
the women being in one court and the men in the other. The 
Mullah from the nearest mosque, or in particular cases some 
distinguished saint or Ishan, is invited to perform the ceremony. 


The bride and bridegroom are not present at the actual mar- 
riage ceremony, which is conducted for them by their wit- 
nesses, who are in all cases male relatives. The witness on 
the part of the woman is her father or uncle, or some one 
of that generation, no other person being allowed to act for 
her without special power of attorney to that effect. If 
the bride should be a slave — in those countries where slavery 
is allowed — it is her master who acts as her witness. The 
Mullah, who is in the same room with the witnesses, asks them 
if the persons whom they represent consent to marry each other, 
and then enquires what the Icalim and dowry are, and if they 
have been properly given; he then recites a prayer giving 
praises to the Prophet and his descendants, draws up the mar- 
riage contract, and repeats a prayer, which is placed at its head : 
' Praise to Grod, who has allowed marriage, and has forbidden 
all adulterous crimes ; let ail heavenly and earthly existences 
praise Mohammed and his pure and honourable posterity.' 
He then pronounces the words, ' I have accomplished the 
marriage between a man and a woman, a woman and a man, 
according to the power given to me by their witnesses, and in 
accordance with the conditions set forth in this contract.' 
Immediately after he again says : ' On behalf of the husband 
and wife I declare consent to this marriage according to the 
commissions given to the witnesses, and the conditions expressed 
in this contract.' The Mullah and witnesses then place their 
seals on the contract, ask the assistance of God, and recite the 
fatha, or first chapter of the Koran. The marriage contract is 
given to the wife or her witnesses. The marriage fee is given 
by the husband, and cannot be demanded from the wife. The 
bridegroom then goes to the apartment of the bride, but is met 
at the door by her brother or some relative, who does not 
permit him to enter until he gives him a piece of money or 
some small present. When he has thus succeeded in obtaining 
admission he joins the bride, and remains with her and all the 
other women. On his entering, the bride is concealed amidst 
a group of women, among whom he must find her hand before 
she can come out. As he has perhaps never seen her, it is a 
somewhat difficult matter. When a feast is held it usually lasts 
all night ; bonfires are lighted, and refreshments are served. 
The women go away in the morning after having received their 


presents. The feast of the men takes place in the outer court, 
and they stay there until half of the night is passed, when they 
receive their presents and retire. It is necessary at the same 
time also to give alms either to the mosque or to poor persons. 
At any time the day after the husband is allowed to take his wife 
to his own house, if he has one, and this done the marriage ia 
entirely consummated. 

In most Mussulman countries, especially in Persia, a 
temporary marriage is allowed, but this is not known in Tash- 
kent. Marriage with a slave is permitted, though it is not 
well regarded, but it is strictly forbidden to a Mussulman to 
marry an infidel. There are also certain degrees of blood- 
relationship in which marriage is forbidden, nor is it allowed 
with persons similarly related to a nurse. A man cannot marry 
the relations of his wife in the ascending or descending lines, 
nor can a son marry the wife of his father, or vice versa. It is 
not allowed to marry two sisters at one time ; the first must be 
divorced before the second can be espoused ; but if the consent 
of his wife be obtained, a man may marry his wife's niece. 

By Mussulman law every man is allowed to have four wives 
at one time, but more than this he cannot legally possess with- 
out divorcing one he has already ; it is, however, the practice 
among rich men to have various concubines, either as servants 
or otherwise. The wife is obliged to obey her husband in all 
things, and to avoid everything that is unpleasant to him, and 
cannot without his consent make any contracts.. She has, how- 
ever, a right to food, clothing, lodging and servants, and to 
money for those expenses which are usual among persons of her 
rank, such as for baths, for visitors, and for the entertainment 
of friends ; if these be not allowed by the husband she can 
complain to the Kazi, or judge, and he can allow her to borrow 
money on account of her husband, or can even order the sale of 
some of her husband's property in order to provide her with 
the money which is necessary. She is obliged also to preserve 
her beauty so far as she can, and to try to please her husband ; 
and for this purpose she is allowed by law to use various cos- 
metics. Besides his wife a man is obliged to support his 
children, and even his father and uncles, if they be unable to 
support themselves. The marriage may be dissolved if either 
of the parties abandon the Mussulman faith, or if the husband 

VOL. I. L 


be absent for a certain time without news being beard of him, 
or in case of a minor who on reaching his majority refuses tc 
consent to a continuance of the marriage; as well as if madness 
or certain diseases be discovered, or if it be discovered that the 
marriage was not properly solemnised. In addition to this the 
husband has always the right of divorcing his wife whenever 
he chooses, without giving any reasons. He is obliged in this 
case to give back to his wife all her own property, as well as 
the amount of kalim, if he have not already paid it. Such a 
divorce, however, must be given before witnesses, and with the 
observance of a certain form. The husband may also divorce 
the wife by her own consent, and is obliged to do so if she tell 
him she wishes to marry another man who is better than he. 
But if the husband refuse to divorce his wife at her request, 
and she be able to give a sufficient reason why such a divorce 
should be had, the Kazi will compel him to divorce her. In 
case of her adultery the husband not only divorces her but 
curses her, and in this case she is prevented from re-marrying, 
though he may re-marry her after having given her a divorce 
once or twice, but never after the third time. There are 
certain contemptuous expressions which if used by a husband 
to his wife give her the right of divorce, and allow her to pre- 
vent him from having access to her, unless he buy this right by 
a gift called kefforet and the recital of certain prayers. 

The position of a wife who is regarded by her husband 
merely as an instrument of his pleasures, or as an obedient servant 
to manage his house, cannot be a very pleasant one, liable as she 
is at any time to be divorced at his fancy or his desire to replace 
her by another. Still, if she be a person of ability, or even a 
coquette, she may be able to hold her husband completely under 
her control, quite as much as wives manage their husbands in 
more civilised countries. As the wife has the privilege of visiting 
her friends she naturally is able to pick up much gossip and 
scandal, and by means of her stories and talk she may cause 
her husband to pass far more pleasant hours in her society than 
he does in the outer court. Besides this she may through her 
husband be able to obtain influence over many people, and to 
meddle in affairs of various kinds ; and if he be placed in high 
position, she may even have great influence over the politics of 
the country. I have known, for instance, cases wtere women 


who have shown capacity have been consulted by their husbands 
on almost every subject, but these are exceptions. Enquiry 
into those- matters is difficult, for it is quite contrary to Mus- 
sulman etiquette for one person to speak to another of his wife 
unless they be on extremely intimate terms ; the most that 
can be said is a mere allusion to the hearth of one's friend. 
The different wives seldom live in the pleasantest relation to 
one another j not so much from jealousy — for I doubt if either 
jealousy or love be greatly developed — as from envy of the 
privileges that another enjoys or the presents she receives. 
Every husband tries as far as possible to keep his wives 
separate. Wives have a peculiar expression for each other : 
kiin-dash, day-companion. 

The Sarts are not only attacked by the usual maladies to 
which our frame is heir, but they have besides two or three 
which are peculiar to the country, or at all events very common 
there. One of these is the reshta, or ' Gruinea-worm ' (Filaria 
medinensis), which is known also in several other parts of the 
world where the climate is hot and the water bad. It is 
probably produced by infusoria, from bad water being taken 
into the system, which in about a year develop into a white 
worm that passes through the body and makes its appearance 
usually in one of the legs. The part affected begins to swell, 
and the native physicians, to whom the symptoms are well 
known, immediately make an incision, and dexterously catching 
hold of the worm, slowly wind it off on a stick. This is an 
operation which has to be clone with great care, as should the 
worm be broken each part would become a separate worm, and 
would be the cause of innumerable ulcers. There are often 
many such worms at the same time. The disease is accom- 
panied by severe pains in the bones and internal heat and 
thirst. It is rarely met with in Tashkent, but is very common 
in Jizakh, Bukhara, and Karshi. In Samarkand it is less 
common, and at the time I was there I was unable to meet 
with a case. At the three places first named the rivers and 
canals come to an end, and most of the water for drinking is 
taken from the large pools and tanks, where it has remained in 
a stagnant state for many months. 

Leprosy is common throughout the whole of Central Asia, 
and the lepers are obliged to live i» separate quarters of the 

L 2 


towns, where they have their own bazaars and prepare their 
own food, and are as far as possible cut off from intercourse 
with others, though in Samarkand numbers of these hideously 
disfigured beings were near the gates, and especially near the 
Mosque of Shah-Zindah, asking alms from the passers-by. The 
constant ablutions performed by the Mussulmans in the water 
of the canals and ponds no doubt contribute greatly to spread 
diseases of various kinds, especially those of the skin. One of 
these, which is known in Tashkent among the Eussians by the 
name of the i Sart disease,' is clearly traceable to the use of 
water ; for if a person use boiled water, or water from a well 
for washing, he is not liable to have this malady. On the 
contrary, those who live nearest to the native towns, and who 
use the water from the canals for washing purposes, are nearly 
always attacked with it. It is known by the natives as Yarra- 
Afgani, ' Afghan sore, 5 or Pasha-harda, literally ' worm-eaten,' 
and is especially common among children. It is a very dis- 
agreeable ulcer, which breaks out on the face or hands, spread- 
ing constantly, and eating deeper and deeper. The native 
physicians are very skilful in curing it, though the Kussian 
physicians have only of late been able to do so. A child of an 
acquaintance of mine, a chemist, was cured by an application 
of acetate of lead, and no trace was left, though usually ugly, 
indelible scars remain. 

In the year 1872 the cholera appeared at Jizakh, and 
spread with great quickness to Samarkand, Shahrisabs, Hissar, 
and the Amu Darya, on the south ; to Bukhara, both from 
Katta Kurgan and from Nurata, and even as far as Khiva, on 
the west ; to Ura-tepe and the Khanate of Khokand, on the 
east ; and northwards to Tashkent, branching off in one direc- 
tion to Lake Issyk-kul, and in the other to Fort No. 1. It 
raged with violence, and the mortality was very great, especially 
at Bukhara and Khokand. In Tashkent measures were taken 
by the Government which gave some relief, though the terror 
was extreme. From the best information that could be obtained 
from the natives the cholera had appeared in Central Asia but 
twice before — once in 1832, and again in 1848 and 1849 — the 
periods of the appearance of this great epidemic in Europe. 
Since 1849 it had not been known in Tashkent. In 1871, 
however, there was a disease prevalent in Bukhara which was 


bo horrible as to cause many persons to die of fright. This 
was probably the cholera, and was in all likelihood brought 
over from Persia, where it was raging in consequence of the 
famine. From Bukhara it probably spread to Jizakh, where it 
remained dormant during the winter, and broke out in the 
spring, returning to Bukhara with renewed violence. It was 
so bad in the district next to Katta Kurgan that the Beks 
applied to the Russians for medical assistance, which was 
readily given. It is noticeable that the cholera on this occasion 
travelled along the high roads and postal routes, while in the 
depths of the Steppe the inhabitants were free from it. 

The parasites which are known all over the world, such as 
fleas and lice, are exceedingly common through the whole of 
Central Asia, but it is strange that the bed-bug was unknown 
there until introduced by the Russians. It is now very common 
at Tashkent and at all the post-houses, but is not yet known 
either in Bukhara or Khokand. 

The first care of the Sart physician is to study your general 
appearance and ask you about your temperament. He has 
learned in the Tukhpatul Muminin, the most common medical 
book here, that you must belong to one of four classes, and his 
treatment of your malady is governed accordingly. When he 
has combined your symptoms with your temperament he will 
pull a bag out of his pocket, or untie the scarf which serves 
him for a girdle, and open an assortment of drugs in twisted 
bits of paper, perhaps tasting and smelling to find the right 
ones, and having chosen the proper medicine, will give you the 
usual directions about doses and diet. The medicaments em- 
ployed by Central Asiatic physicians are, in general, very 
simple, being in most part vegetable substances, but few 
animal matters and minerals being used. They are usually 
taken simply in the form of powders or decoctions, and when a 
mixed medicine is used the physician delivers the substances 
to the patient and allows him to mix them for himself. This 
not only saves the physician trouble, but, in a certain way, 
soothes the suspicious feelings of the patient, who might ima- 
gine., in case he did not immediately improve, that he had been 
poisoned by the doctor. Professor DragendorfF 1 says that the 

1 ' Ueber den jetzigen Zustand der Volksmedicin in Turkestan.' — Russisch 
Bevue, vol. ii. p. 331. 


medicine of Turkistan is of the same general nature as that Df 
all Mussulman countries, having been introduced by the Arabs 
at the conquest of the country. Of 226 vegetable medicines 
which he examined at least 210 were known to the contempo- 
raries of the great Arabic physician Ebn Baithar, and certainly 
172 to Dioscorides and G-alen. The remaining substances 
replace others which were used in the old times, but which are 
either with difficulty procurable or entirely inaccessible, and 
they are usually externally similar to them, though their pro- 
perties may be very different. Professor Dragendorff lays it 
down as a general rule that in all Mussulman countries the 
few medicines in use which seem to be of native origin, and to 
be brought down by tradition from the old times, are simply 
used to replace others which could not be had. Of the 226 
drugs mentioned by him 12 were stated to have been brought 
from China and 62 from India, but these statements refer, in 
general, only to the places where they were boaght, and not to 
their origin. Seventy-one of them grow wild, or are cultivated 
in Tashkent, fifty in Samarkand and Bukhara, and some are 
brought from Khiva, Khokand, and Afghanistan. Seven were 
said to be of Persian origin, six from Arabia and Turkey, one 
from Egypt, and four from Europe. The medicines imported from 
Europe are not new to the country, but have been long well 
known there. The Eussian merchants sell them cheaper and 
better than they can be otherwise procured. 

As soon as a man dies his body is washed by a woman 
called kiranda, whose special business it is to take care of the 
dead, and to weep and wail during the funeral ceremonies. 
The burial takes place as soon as possible, usually the same 
day. The body, after being washed, is dressed and covered 
with a shroud, and placed in a reclining position, with the 
hands straight down by the sides, and is then tied round and 
round with a long bandage, which, among the richer classes, is 
usually of silk. In Tashkent a form of prayer is recited in the 
house by the Mullah, but in Shahrisabs and Bukhara the body, 
which lies on a bier, provided at times with a top made of 
matting and even covered with rich cloths, is carried to the 
mosque, and the funeral service is performed there. Though 
a woman, when alive, cannot go to the mosque, she has no dis- 
tinction made against her after death. When the body ie 


borne to the cemetery the women follow it, weeping and 
uttering various cries in praise of the deceased and in lamen- 
tation at his death. The body stops at every mosque on the 
road, the Mullah of which is asked to come out and recite 
prayers. The grave has been prepared beforehand, and consists 
of a deep ditch, at one end of which an underground chamber 
has been hollowed out. As the bier is brought to this ditch, the 
body-— which of course is without a coffin — is tumbled down and 
shoved into the hollow chamber, together with the jug used in 
washing it ; the ditch is then filled up with earth, and a mound 
raised over it. In many cases this is all that is done, a stick 
being perhaps stuck in the mound to mark it ; in others the 
chambers are made of bricks plastered over with clay, in different 
forms, usually square or oblong, and sometimes with a pavilion 
or temple over them. A small lamp is frequently placed on 
the grave, and sometimes objects belonging to the deceased — 
especially the cradle in case of a child. The cemeteries of the 
cities are for the most part within the walls, and present a very 
lugubrious appearance, as no pains are taken to render them at- 
tractive, and there is no verdure whatever about them. Feasts 
called ask (literally 'food') are given to the friends on the day of 
the funeral, and on the seventh day, the fortieth day, the half- 
yearly, and the yearly anniversary of the death, and women 
come to the tombs to weep and wail. The first day of mourn- 
ing goes by the name of gap, i.e. commemorative talk. For a 
year the women are obliged to wear dark clothes, as signs of 
mourning, but the men do not express their grief in this way. 

It is curious that these periods of commemorative mourn- 
ing for the dead are the same as "those observed in Russia 
among the Christians, from which it would seem either that 
they had been adopted by the Russians during the epoch of 
Tartar ascendency, or that they had both come down from the 
early times when Russia and Central Asia were inhabited by 
much the same races. There are other resemblances in the 
funeral feasts, and in Russia the funeral processions also stop 
at the churches which they pass for the sake of having prayers 

In Tashkent, when the mourners leave the grave they take 
with them a handful of the earth which they have just thrown 
into it. The same practice exists in some parts of Russia. A 


friend of mine at the burial of her child was advised by the old 
nurse to take some of the earth home and rub her breast with 
it, so as to mitigate her grief. Instead of the water jug, in 
Kussia the scraps of the material used for the grave clothes are 
buried with the body, as well as the wine glass with the wine and 
water used in extreme unction, and the ashes of the incense. 

I had, until my visit to Central Asia, believed with Solovief 
and others that the influence of the Mongol conquerors on 
Kussia was very slight and superficial. Russia, it is true, was 
only a vassal, and there was no Mongol and Tartar population 
scattered through the country, but the Russian princes had 
frequently to pay their respects at the Mongol court, even at 
Karakorum, *in Mongolia ; there were Mongol ambassadors and 
tax-collectors stationed in Russian towns. Still, the Mongol 
domination lasted for more than two hundred and fifty years, and 
must have left some traces on customs and language. I could not 
but be struck in Central Asia with many little things, such as these 
customs about funerals, and I was led to believe, not only that the 
Mongol influence was much greater than I had supposed, but 
that much in the history of Russia could not be thoroughly 
understood without a careful study of Asiatic life as it now is 
in Bukhara and Tashkent. Deductions of this sort, however, 
must be cautiously made. Two things, for instance, are often 
mentioned as consequences of the Mongol domination — the 
severe and cruel punishments formerly in use in Russia, and 
the retired life of the women up to the time of Peter the 
Great. Yet it is now clearly shown that the severe punish- 
ments were introduced from Constantinople with the ecclesiastical 
law, which by degrees spread its influence over the civil law ; 
and we well know from contemporary authors that the Mongols 
by no means secluded their women, who, on the contrary, 
appeared in public on all state occasions. The Asiatic 
influence was most visible on the Russian rulers and their 
court, for it was the princes and the aristocracy who had the 
directest relations with their Mongol suzerains. The style and 
ceremony of the court were modelled after Asiatic forms; 
among other things the word ' above ' (verkh), which was con- 
stantly used of the residence of the Tsars in the Kremlin, 
and is even now-a-days a not uncommon expression for the Winter 
Palace, is to this day used in Bukhara (yulchari) to denote the 


residence of the Amir. The Russian Grand Prince Ivan Kalit£, 
the first consolidator of Russia, received his surname from 
halta, the Turki for bag- or purse, a word now habitually used 
in Central Asia. The Russian nobles shaved their heads and 
dressed in the fashion set by their conquerors. They wore 
little skull-caps exactly like those now worn in Central Asia. 
That of the murdered Tsarevitch Dimitri is still preserved in 
the cathedral of the Kremlin ; and the crown called the ' cap 
of Vladimir Monomakh ' is nothing but a Kirghiz cap orna- 
meuted with precious stones. Even the names for many common 
articles of dress, such as shoes (bashmak), boots (itchetof), 
belt (kwshalc), are Tartar. Asiatic stuffs were common in 
Moscow under their original names. The stables for the best 
horses of the Tsar were, even in the seventeenth century, called 
those for the Argamaks — still the best breed of horses in 
Central Asia. As one of the most evident and most galling 
relations of the Russians to the Mongols was the tribute which 
was exacted, it is but natural that the word for * treasury ' or 
8 crown property' still in use (hazna) should be a Tartar word 
coming from the Arabic, and that kaznatchi (treasurer) should 
be a purely Tartar form. This same word has come to us in 
a very different way — through the Spanish, in the form maga- 
zine. In spite of this it seemed strange to me to find that the 
Russian word for money, denga or dengi, in the form tenga, 
meant everywhere in Central Asia a coin of twenty kopeks ; 
the smaller coin, pul, appears in the Russian pul and polushka ; 
and altyn, originally six tengas (Tartar alty, six), remains in 
the word pyataltyn, five altyns or fifteen kopeks, in frequent 
use with the cabmen of St. Petersburg. Asiatic weights and 
measures can be seen in batman and arshin ; and ambar, sara% 
and tckerdak (garret and storehouse), are Eastern words. It 
would be a curious subject of enquiry whether the Russian laws 
regarding taxes and real estate do not also show the effects of 
Asiatic influence. 

Islam, as we all know, means ' submission (to God),' and is 
founded on the Koran, which the Mohammedans believe 
to have been delivered to Mohammed in separate chapters, 
called suras, by God himself through the Archangel Gabriel. 
The great principle of the religion is the unity of God, 


as distinguished from the idolatry of the Arabians, the 
mysticism of various sects, or the trinitarian teachings of the 
Christians. But in the Koran we find, beside merely religious 
doctrines reiterated in many forms, a series of rules with 
regard to daily life and practice, and even to political relations. 
Mohammed had advised his followers to learn all his regulations 
by heart, promising them on so doing a reward in the future life. 
This was done, and is still often done ; but the suras of the 
Koran were never collected together into one book or placed 
in order during the lifetime of Mohammed, and were pre- 
served by his followers in various forms, written on materials of 
all kinds. After his death the Khalif Abu Bekr ordered Seid 
Ibny-Sobit to collect all these scattered papers, and in the 
thirteenth year of the Hegira the Koran was published in its 
complete form, divided into 114 chapters or suras. Other 
collections were made, and there came at last to be seven dif- 
ferent versions, varying probably chiefly from the different 
dialects in which they were written, several of which laid claim 
to special authority. In the time of the Khalif Othman, in 
the thirtieth year of the Hegira (650 a.d.), a revision of the 
Koran was undertaken in one dialect, and when this was com- 
pleted copies of it were sent to the different parts of the 
Mussulman world, and previous obscure and incorrect copies 
were destroyed. This is the form in which the Koran has come 
to us. As the Koran contained the basis of legislation and 
various rules and laws, with special directions for their applica- 
tion, it was necessary in many cases to have recourse to certain 
annotations, so that in the early days of Islam there arose three 
supplements to the Koran, Hadis, Ijina-u-Ummet, and Kias. 
The Hadis was a collection of remarks and orders of the Pro- 
phet, as transmitted by oral tradition, and examples from his 
private and public life. Although these orders, not coming from 
the Almighty, did not have the force of the Koran, yet as they 
had come from the lips of the Prophet himself they served for 
deciding cases which were not mentioned in that book. But 
in the collection of these traditions there were certain differ- 
ences, especially between the traditions collected by AM, the 
nephew and son-in-law of the Prophet, and those handed down 
by others of his friends and followers. The Hadis, or traditions 
as recognised by the Sunnite sect, consist of six books, callel 


tSikliokhe Sitte, or six books of regular traditions compiled by 
the most eminent doctors, the chief of whom was the celebrated 
El Bukhari. The Ijma-u-Ummet is a collection of the decisions 
of the first four Khalifs, and their orders and explanations of 
the Koran with regard to civil and religious matters. The 
Kias is a collection of decisions and judgments founded on the 
Koran and Hadis by the Khalifs, other than the first four, and 
by the Imams and highest spiritual persons. 

Mohammed himself had predicted that Islam would have 
seventy-three different sects, as the religions of the Magis had 
been divided into seventy sects, that of the Jews into seventy- 
one, and that of the Christians into seventy-two. Certainly, 
many sects were formed soon after the death of the Prophet, 
and many now exist, the principal of which are the sect of 
Sunni and that of Shii. The chief differences in the dogmas 
of these two sects spring from the doctrine of Imamet, the 
hereditary right of the descendants of Ali to rule over the 
Mussulman world. The Sunnites do not admit any Imams 
except the first four Khalifs, and believe that on the death of 
the Prophet the spiritual and worldly power was confided to 
the worthiest persons on the choice of the society or people. 
For the Shiites the lmamet is the chief doctrine of religion, 
and they consider the first three Khalifs, as well as those of the 
houses of B'ni Ummie and B'ni Abbas, as infringers on the 
lawful rights of Ali and his descendants, and that all done by 
them is not only unlawful but deserving of contempt and 
curses. The Sunnites consider Ali as a lawful Khalif, but only 
as the fourth after Abu Bekr, Omar, and Othman, and respect 
his descendants as those of the Prophet, but do not believe that 
the Khalifate was legally confined to Ali and his descendants 
alone. Another difference is that the Shiites believe it possible 
and allowable to abjure their religion in case of danger to their 
life, which is not permitted by the Sunnites. Besides having 
many differences in the rites of ablution, prayers, pilgrimage, and 
various laws and rules of civil and domestic life, the Shiites accept 
the Hadis, or traditions, as a proper supplement to the Koran 
in so far as they do not contradict it, but deny many traditions 
that are received by the Sunnites. 1 The Shiites, who chiefly 

* See Baron Tornau's ' Basis of Mussulman Law,' St. Petersburg, I860. 


inhabit Persia, and are nearly always of Persian race, recognise 
the Sunnites as Mohammedans, though considering them 
heretical. In the same way the most of the Sunnites consider 
the Shiites merely as heretics ; but owing to the decision of 
the Mullah Shems-eddin Mohammed of Samarkand, the 
Sunnites of Central Asia look upon the Shiites nob as heretics 
but as infidels, and therefore believe it right to make slaves of 
them. On both sides the fanaticism is so great that heretics 
seem almost worse than infidels, and it would be difficult to 
find a parallel for it among Christians of the present day. 

The Sunnites are divided into four chief sects, named after 
saints or eminent religious men, 1 who have sketched out certain 
rules for the external rites of Islam, or for the decision of cer- 
tain judicial questions. These are the Hanifeh, or Azem, the 
Shafi, the Malik, and the Hanbal sects. Of the inhabitants of 
Central Asia the majority are Hanifeis, and a much smaller 
number Shafiis ; but there are no others. The recent revival 
of pure Islamism by the Wdhabis never extended to Central 
Asia, though it has so many votaries in India and Afghanistan. 

It is the duty of every Mohammedan not only to believe in 
the doctrines of Islam but to perform all the external rites, 
prayers, fasts, &c. which are laid down by the spiritual teachers, 
and especially to attend prayers in the mosque on Friday, or 
Jumma. As in most Oriental countries, and as seemed to be 
the case in the early Christian Church, a day extends from 
sunset to sunset. The 300 mosques in Tashkent were always 
filled on Thursday evening and Friday morning, especially for 
the 1 1 o'clock prayer, while after that there were only the few 
habitual attendants who might be seen there every day, for it is 
an act of merit to attend the mosque daily ; and then besides 
one has the chance of meeting one's friends and having a little 
gossip. The mosques here are for the most part small oblong 
buildings, with one side open to the air, in front of which is a 
large portico, the wall facing the entrance being in the direction 
of Mecca, and the kibleh, or point, which marks the direction of 
the kaaba, being placed there. The interior is generally destitute 
of ornament, save perhaps rude lithographs or prints, coming pro- 
bably from India, which represent the holy buildings at Mecca, 

1 The Imam Azam-Abu-Hanifeh, 699-767 ; Imam Shafi, 767-8 19 Imam Maiik 
ob. 795 ; and Imam Hanbal, who died in Bagdad, 855. 


with written descriptions and explanations. At times, too, there 
are pasted on the wall in ornamental writing certain texts and 
sentences from the Koran. In the grounds of every mosque is a 
small pond for the use of 'those worshippers who have not had an 
opportunity of performing their ablutions at home. Every mosque 
has an Imam, or parish-priest, who says the prayers, and a Sufi 
or clerk. The Imams receive voluntary offerings from the 
inhabitants of their parishes at Ramazan, but the Sufis receive 
nothing except the remnants after a feast, and gowns as pay for 
washing the dead. One cannot but be struck with the appear 
ance of good Mohammedans going to the mosque in their holi 
day clothes, one end of their turban floating over their shoulder, 
and all the elderly men with long heavy canes. Leaving their 
overshoes at the door, they go to their places and spread on the 
floor the praying-carpets, which they have brought with them, 
if the mosque does not provide any, for at prayers the wor- 
shipper must stand on a perfectly clean substance, and if 
possible on something owned by him. When prayer is once 
commenced they are all attention, and they must think of 
nothing else whatever. The postures and prayers are the same 
here as in other Sunnite countries, with some slight variations 
in the position of the hands or the manner of bowing ; and 
one notices here, even perhaps more than elsewhere, the deep 
religious earnestness which seems to pervade all. It is 
customary for the worshippers to stand and kneel in regular 
lines in the mosque or portico, and not in any place that may 
please individual caprice ; and should any person put himself 
forward he is contravening the principle of equality which rules 
among Mussulmans, and his conduct is severely* blamed. I 
remember one instance which caused some little talk. Said 
Azim, of whom I have already spoken, one day at the mosque 
took a position in advance of all the rest, as perhaps he had 
noticed that high Russian dignitaries did in their church, for 
many natives have attended the Russian service out of motives 
of curiosity. He was reprimanded by the Imam, but still re- 
fused to stand in the line ; and when the service was over, being 
censured in more severe terms by the Imam, he told him that 
he would do as he pleased, and that if such remarks were made 
to him lie would have him expelled from the parish. The 
parishioners took the side of their Imam, and since that time 


Said Azim has been obliged either to absent himself or to take 
an equal position with the rest. 

Islam admits of many religious orders, both monastic and 
unmonastic, who, though subjected to a less strict discipline, 
are superior in numbers as well as in influence on the popular 
mind to the monastic brotherhoods of the Christian Church 
Tr> some one of these various orders 'belong the Duvanas, 01 
Dervishes (called also Kalendar), who are so frequently seen in 
the towns of Central Asia. In Tashkent the dervishes are pro- 
hibited as dangerous to public order, their sermons and exhorta- 
tions being often of a seditious character. In Hodjent and 
Samarkand they are freer. In the monastic fraternities, or 
Sulhuk, there are persons of all conditions of life, who adopt 
the mystic principles of the order, as the surest way of reaching 
salvation. Such fraternities exist at Tashkent, and the most 
prominent ones are the Nakshbandi, Hufid, Jahrid, Khodrie, 
and Tchistia, the last, however, being chiefly followed in 
Hodjent and Khokand. It is very difficult to ascertain the 
origin and foundation of these orders, each having its separate 
legendary history, in which it strictly believes, and each being 
protected by some saint, the Nakshbandi, for example, by 
Baha-uddin, the celebrated saint of Bukhara ; the Jahrid by 
Hazret Yasavi, the eminent saint who is buried in Turkistan ; 
and each has its method for obtaining the eternal blessing of 
the Almighty, for exalting the soul, and for arriving at a state of 
perpetual happiness. The Hufid believe that this spiritual 
exaltation is to be obtained by silent prayer, while the Khodrie 
prefer gaining it by exertion of the voice and loud cries. The 
Nakshbandi differ much from the others in their rules, and 
live more like monks. The brotherhood of the Jahrid has 
daily services in various places in Tashkent, as, for instance, 
every Sunday until Monday morning in the mosque of Ishan 
Hodja, and on Monday from eight o'clock in the morning 
until two o'clock in the afternoon in the mosque of Hodja Akhrar; 
while from nine o'clock on Thursday evening until five or six 
o'clock on Friday morning the service is held in the mosque 
of Ishan Sahib Hodja, near the Urda bazaar, where I had an 
opportunity of witnessing the ceremonies. 

At about ten o'clock one Thursday evening, in company with 
several friends, we went to this mosque, and were at once 


admitted. I may remark here that Russians have not the 
slightest difficulty in entering any of the mosques in Tashkent, 
and are not even requested to take off their boots ; and, what 
seems to me to be a great stretch of politeness, there is no objec- 
tion made to their smoking in the precincts. Some thirty men, 
young and old, were on their knees in front of the kibleh 
reciting prayers with loud cries and violent movements of the 
body, and around them was a circle two or three deep of men 
standing, who were going through the same motions. We took 
up a position in one corner and watched the proceedings. For 
the most part the performers or worshippers had taken off their 
outside gowns and their turbans, for the night was warm and 
the exercise was violent. They were reciting the words Hasbi 
rabi jal Allah (' My defence is the Lord. May Allah be 
magnified ' ) ; Mo ft kalbi hirallah (' There is nothing but 
God in my heart') ; Nuri Muhammed sail Allah (' My light, 
Mohammed, God bless him ' ) ; La iloha ill Allah (' There is no 
God but Allah'). 

These words were chanted to various semi-musical motives, 
in a low voice, and were accompanied by a violent movement 
of the head over the left shoulder towards the heart, then back, 
then to the right shoulder, and then down, as if directing all 
the movements towards the heart. These texts were repeated 
for hundreds and hundreds of times, and this Zihr usually 
lasted for an hour or two, though it depended upon the will of 
the Ishan who was leading. At first the movements were slow, 
but continually increased in rapidity until the performers were 
unable to endure it longer. If anyone failed in his duty, or 
were slower, or made less movement than was required, the Ishan 
who regulated the enthusiasm went up to him and struck him 
oyer the head, or pushed him back out of the circle and called 
another into it. Occasionally persons got so worn out with 
their cries, and so wet with perspiration, that it became 
necessary for them to retire for a few minutes' rest, and their 
places were immediately taken by others. When their voices 
became entirely hoarse with one cry another was begun, and 
finally the cry was struck up of ' Hai, Hai ! Allah Hai ! ' ('Live, 
Allah, the immortal '), at first slowly, with an inclination of the 
body to the ground; then the rhythm grew faster and in 
cadence, the body became more and more vertical, until at once 


they all stood up ; the measure still increased in rapidity, 
and each one placing his hand on the shoulder of his neighbour 
and thus forming several concentric rings, they moved in a 
mass from side to side of the mosque, leaping about, and 
always crying 'Hai Allah Hai ! ' Hitherto there had been some- 
thing wild and unearthly in it, but now to persons of weak 
nerves it became positively painful, and two of my friends were 
so much impressed as to be obliged to leave the mosque. 
Although I was sufficiently cold-blooded to see the ridiculous 
rather than the horrible side of this, I could not help receiving 
an impression that the devotees were a pack of madmen, 
whose motions were utterly independent of any volition of their 
own. Finally, as their strength gave out the mass gradually 
found its way back to the kibleh, and standing in a half-circle, 
moved their bodies from right to left with the same words, 
Hai Hai! Allah Hai! or with a slight change, Hua Allah! 
moving forwards and backwards. At last several of the 
worshippers came forward to the centre of this ring and began 
a wild frenzied dance, the accompaniment being constantly 
changed. They seemed entirely to have lost their senses, and 
often rushed against some of those who surrounded them, pulled 
them violently into the midst and forced them also to dance. 
Then, when all their physical powers were exhausted, the 
brethren of the order again sat down in a circle and devoted 
themselves to contemplation, while the Ishan recited a prayer. 
After the prayer there was a pathetic recitation by a Hajiz 
(the word Hajiz is employed here to denote one who recites the 
poems of Hajiz, or generally any religious verses) of some 
touching episode in the life of one of the saints, or of reflections 
on the mortality of man or the fires of Gehenna. The intona- 
tions of the voice were very remarkable, and were often accom- 
panied by most singular gestures, the hands or a book being 
often held to the side of the mouth, in order to throw the voice 
as far as possible. Often these recitations are merely collec- 
tions of meaningless words, which always seem to produce the 
same effect on the hearers, and are constantly interrupted by 
cries of Hi, ho, och och, ba ba, and groans and sobs, and the 
hearers weep, beat their breasts with their fists, or fall upon 
the ground. When one Hajiz has finished a second begins, 
and another prayer by the Ishan follows, interrupted from time 


to time by the regular chant of the brethren, Ya hai ya, Allah^ 
or Allah akhbar, or accompanied by gestures and the stroking 
of the face and beard, while the words themselves are silently 
recited. The cries and movements then begin again, then 
follow the dances, until finally everything seems to be done at 
once, each one endeavouring to drown the voices of the others, 
until fatigue again intervenes, when silence prevails, and so 
over and over again the performance goes on until the morning. 
There is no regular rule as to the sequence of different acts of 
devotion, the whole matter being regulated by the order of the 
Pir or Ishan. After a while we retired from the mosque, and 
were taken to the chief Ishan, who was too unwell to preside 
at the performance, but feasted us with some tea and fruit ; 
and on our return his assistant, knowing that he would receive 
at least a ruble on our departure, did his best to make the per- 
formances more interesting, changing them more rapidly and 
devoting more time to dancing and less to recitation. When 
the cries were the loudest and the motions the most violent he 
seemed quite content, and even asked if we were pleased by it ; 
yet this is the most -fanatical sect of Muslims in Central Asia. 

I do not know whether it be a wish to please their Russian 
masters, or whether it be a sign of gradual liberalism which has 
crept in, that the Mussulmans are so willing to show Christians 
their religious rites. I am inclined to think, however, that it 
is owing to a gradually increasing spirit of indifTerentism. It 
has been found necessary in all Central Asiatic countries to 
keep up the observances of religion by severe penalties ; both in 
Khokand and Bukhara there exist officials called Reis whose duty 
is to compel the attendance of the inhabitants at the mosques, 
even driving them if necessary from their shops and occupa- 
tions. Should religious laxity become known to this official, 
he, or one of his assistants, quickly punishes it by blows ad- 
ministered by a broad strap fastened to a handle, which he car- 
ries over his right shoulder ; he is required, however, not to re- 
move his hand from his shoulder in giving the blow, though this 
daes not prevent it from being severe. When the Russians occu- 
pied Tashkent they abolished the office of Reis, and since that 
time there is much laxity of observance ; the mosques are much 
more thinly attended. The Kazis say that not half so many go 
to daily prayers as formerly, and many persons, especially those 

VOL. I. M 


who are much occupied, never think during the day of making 
their ablutions or of saying their prayers. Much has been said 
of the fanaticism of Central Asia, but the fanaticism seems to 
me more apparent than real. The Mullahs and Dervishes are 
fanatical partly from a spirit of caste, and partly because it is 
their interest to be so. The rest of the population are often 
religious only when in public. They will let pass many obser 
vances and commit many sins if they think no one knows it, but 
will be the loudest in their cries against one who is found out. 

There has not been the slightest hindrance offered by the 
Kussians to the full exercise of Mohammedanism, which is pro- 
fessed by many Eussian officials, and is one of the state religions, 
the most of the Mussulman subjects of the Empire being under 
the control of the Mufti, who resides at Ufa, and who by-the- 
by is a Eussian nobleman and an accomplished gentleman. 
General Kaufmann has refused to allow any missionary enter- 
prises among the natives, and one or two persons who have come 
from St. Petersburg with this idea have been compelled to quit 
Tashkent sooner than they at first intended. This action of 
the Eussian Administration is very praisew.orthy, and is sure to 
be followed by very excellent results. The natives are content 
in seeing that their religion is not oppressed, and that there are 
no martyrs is perhaps one reason why there is less religious 
enthusiasm. During the cholera of 1872 the Kazis and chief 
inhabitants of Tashkent made a representation to the Grovern- 
ment requesting that they would prohibit dances of boys and 
various other customs which they said were not in accordance 
with the strict rules of their religion, and they desired the 
Eussians to compel attendance at the mosques. It was impos- 
sible to grant the last request, but upon this representation the 
public dances of boys were for a time all stopped, not so much 
on account of the religious feeling, as because by gathering 
large crowds together they might be instrumental in propa- 
gating disease. 

Education in Tashkent, as in general throughout Central 
Asia, is entirely religious. In one sense it can be said to be in 
the hands of the clergy, for although the teachers are not 
generally speaking parish priests, yet they belong to the 
learned class which is instructed only in religion and religiou3 
law, and nothing is taught which does not have some bearing 


upon religion or law. Schools are of two kinds, the makhtab, 
or primary school, of which there is usually one in every parish 
attached to the mosque ; and the medresse, or college, where 
the higher religions and legal studies are prosecuted, of which 
there are seventeen in Tashkent, six of them large and 
flourishing. Of these the college of Kukol Tash was founded 
450 years ago. The college of Barak Khan, founded some 320 
years ago, has 100 students. It was at one time almost re- 
duced to ruin, but Khanayat Shah, one of the generals of 
Malla Khan, gave it a large property during his lifetime, and 
on his death left it much more, which was confirmed by the 
Khan. The college of Beklar-Bek, which was built only about 
forty years ago, is one of the largest and richest. It owns many 
shops and houses, besides mills and lands, and supports 200 stu- 
dents. The teachers of the makhtabs are paid by voluntary contri- 
butions from the parents of the pupils of from twenty to forty 
kopeks a year, and a special gift or a gown before the holidays, 
which occur twice a year, before the feasts of Euza-ait and Kur- 
ban-ait. Besides this they receive a loaf of bread or some small 
gift every Thursday. The pupils in the medresses pay nothing, 
but they, as well as their professors, are supported from the reve- 
nues of the college derived from vaqf, or lands and property 
given for religious uses. The endowment of mosques and colleges 
has for centuries past been looked upon as a work of piety and 
glory, and many even during their lives devote their fortunes to 
such good ends. I remember visiting one evening the college of 
Seid Abdul Kasim, a man who is universally regarded as a saint 
in Tashkent. At first he would have do intercourse whatever 
with the Eussians, but since then, not finding them so bad as 
he expected, he has altered his opinion. Seid Abdul Kasim is 
no doubt a very learned man in Mussulman law, but what he 
and his family are chiefly celebrated for is their ability to recite 
the whole of the Koran by heart. A person who can do this is 
called here kari; in the Levant, hafiz. His two sons, a grand- 
son, and two daughters — though the latter I did not see — are 
said to be able to accomplish this feat ; and what is more strange, 
scarcely one of them is at all acquainted with Arabic, and the 
effort therefore is entirely one of memory, they not having the 
slightest idea of the meaning of the words which they repeat. 
They of course know the contents of the Koran from illegal tisns- 

M 2 


lations in the Persian and Turki, but would be unable to trans* 
late it verse for verse. The college of Seid Abdul Kasim is 
supported entirely by him. At one time his revenues were con- 
siderably diminished by the forced closing of his sarai on the 
bazaar in consequence of the opening of the Tashkent fair. 
Upon the advice of some friends he proposed to the Eussian 
Administration to introduce into his college courses of the 
Russian language and of modern sciences, on condition that the 
prohibition against his sarai should be withdrawn. As the 
coal sold in his sarai could not be brought with advantage to 
the fair, his request was acceded to ; but whether the authorities 
forgot this proposition, or whether their ideas changed, no steps 
were taken either to co-operate with Abdul Kasim or to provide 
him with teachers, and the proposed courses have not yet begun. 
Boys begin to study in the primary schools at about five or 
six years of age, and continue through a course lasting at least 
seven years. They commence with the alphabet, which is fol- 
lowed by parts of the Koran, and then study six or seven books, 
among which are ' Tchar Kitab,' ' Mantyk,' and ' Farsegain.' 
These seven books they must be able to read and copy with 
ease, but after that the course is not fixed, and they read 
various books in Persian or Turki with no special sequence. 
The first few books they are obliged to read aloud all at one 
time, and they learn to write, with the usual Indian ink, on 
wooden slates like small spades. The teacher, with huge 
spectacles on bis nose, sits on one side, with a pile of books 
near him, and round him is a circle of boys, all kneeling and 
bending over their books, which are upon the floor. A spectator 
wonders how the teacher is able to distinguish anything, but he 
is so used to it that should one boy be for a moment silent he 
is immediately reminded of his duties with a long rod. With 
the exception of one or two books, the boys understand nothing 
of what they read, though it is perhaps better for their morals 
that this should be the case. The attendance is from sunrise 
till about five o'clock in the evening, with occasional short 
intervals during the day for rest and refreshment. Holidays 
are very few. When a boy begins to read the Koran it is 
customary for his father to present the teacher with a gown. 
As soon as a boy has finished the course of the primary school 
he may begin that of the college, where he is instructed h\ 


religious law. The course at the college, which is divided into 
three classes, includes at least twenty-eight books, though it 
may extend to 137, and lasts about fifteen years. But few ever 
finish the entire course ; if they do so, they are then qualified 
to be Imams, or parish priests, teachers of schools, or Muftis, 
and secretaries of the Kazis. The revenues of the college are 
looked after by the steward, or Tnutevali, who collects them 
and pays the regular amounts to the professors and pupils and 
to the various servants of the college. 

The pupils of the college usually prepare their lessons before- 
hand, either in their rooms at home or in the grounds of the 
inedresse. I was present at several recitations or lectures held 
by a professor, or mudaris, who first read a passage of the text- 
book and then commented on it, his hearers showing that they 
were paying attention by groaning from time to time Ach, ach, 
and nodding their heads. They then made remarks and dis- 
puted over the passage, one interrupting the other when his 
opinion was different, to which the professor likewise assented 
with Ach, ach. Bystanders are also allowed to join in the dis- 
cussion, and one or two of the Mullahs who were with me did 
so, and the conversation became very animated. The question 
was, I believe, about some peculiarities of the law of divorce. 
When the pupils have ceased their disputes, the professor states 
what is the true doctrine with regard to the matter and passes 
to the next paragraph. The manner of teaching is not without 
advantage, though the prolonged discussions over very trifling 
matters are apt to waste the time of the students, and conse- 
quently extend the number of years during which they will 
have to study. Besides the regular medresse there are some 
special schools, such as Saliavat Khana, where nothing but 
prayers are taught ; Karikh Khana, where the pupils do no- 
thing but learn the Koran by heart, so as to become Kazi ; and 
Masnavi Khana, where the works of the poet Masnavi are 

Education is not confined to the men ; girls also are taught 
to read and write in special schools, and study for three or four 
years, after which for the next year or two, up to their mar- 
riage, they are occupied in learning to sew. 

Among my most interesting acquaintances in Tashkent were 

166 riTEKISTAN. 

the Kazis, or native judges, two of whom I remember with 
great pleasure. The most able and honest of them was Mukan- 
eddin Hodja, son of the former Kazi Kalian. One of my 
earliest visits in Tashkent were made to him, and with him and 
his brother and cousin, all equally learned and pious, I spent a 
very agreeable evening. Conversation was of course chiefly on 
education and on Mussulman law, but I found that they did 
not disdain occasional jokes and jests, though these were said 
somewhat under their breath, as if they were contrary to the 
spirit of the place, for there was a mosque and a small college 
close by, where the Kazi had his students of law. 

The law courts among the native population of Central 
Asia are of two kinds : among the settled population there are 
the Kazis, who administer justice on the basis of written laws, — 
the Shariat, founded on the Koran, and introduced together 
with Mohammedanism ; and among the nomads, — Kirghiz, and 
others, — the Biis, who judge according to the unwritten tradi- 
tions and customs, adat. Though these traditions are unwritten 
and unformulated they are none the less generally known, and 
are a pure product of national life, altered by no importations 
from a foreign civilisation, and in many particulars directly 
contrary to the doctrines of Mussulman law. One prominent 
characteristic of this traditional, law is, that no difference is 
made between civil and criminal offences, all crimes being 
viewed only in their relation to others, and being punished by 
damages in favour of the injured party. A bii is, properly 
speaking, an arbitrator, versed in the national traditions, but 
bound by no formalities. The proceedings are therefore entirely 
oral ; no record is kept, and no appeal can be taken. The biis, 
up to the time when the Eussians introduced changes into the 
government of the Steppe, were not permanent officers, but were 
chosen for the occasion, although naturally a man distinguished 
for his probity and his justice would be the more often called 
upon to fill this office ; but disputes were often referred to the 
first comer. A Eussian Cossack, who went yearly to fish in 
Lake Issyk-Kul, acquired such a reputation among the Kirghiz 
of that region that he was frequently asked to be bii, and was 
paid the usual fees ; many affairs were even purposely deferred 
until his yearly visit. 

The Eussians retained the court of biis, believing that 


there was nothing in this institution opposed to the spread of 
Russian influence, buf, introduced certain changes, in making the 
biis permanent officers elected by the people, and in establish- 
ing appeals from a single bii to councils of biis in two instances, 
and from thence to the Russian courts. For the purposes of 
appeal, the very idea of which is opposed to the theory of a 
court of arbitration, it is necessary to have written records of 
the proceedings of the courts- and of the judgments. As the 
Kirghiz are generally uneducated, they are thus thrown into 
the hands of clerks and copyists, chiefly wandering Tartar 
Mullahs, whose influence has already proved very harmful. 

In the settled portions of the country the courts of the 
Kazis, judging after the Shariat, or written Mussulman law, 
were brought in with Mohammedanism, and have gradually got 
the upper hand of the traditionary procedure, which was more 
in accordance with the national spirit. Some of the Uzbek 
clans, however, still preserve their custom law — uzbektchilyk — 
especially for family matters, in spite of their Kazis ; and in 
Shahrisabs the Mussulman code was only permanently intro- 
duced by the Amir Nasrullah on his conquest. When at his 
death Shahrisabs became again independent under Jura Bek, 
the Mussulman code was retained, as being best adapted to the 

Under Mussulman rule in Tashkent — as is now the case 
in the independent Khanates — the Kazis, who were appointed 
for life by the Khan or Bek, after a long and careful examination 
in the rules of the Shariat and the decisions of learned Mullahs 
by a special commission of learned men, were unlimited in 
number. The court was small, with but a single Kazi ; and, as 
there were no fixed districts, the suitor had recourse to that one 
in whom he had the greatest confidence. In the larger places 
there was the Kazi Kalian, who was as it were the presiding 
justice. The proceedings in all these courts were oral, but the 
judgment and the documentary evidence were copied into special 
books kept for this purpose by the mufti, or secretary, and 
sealed with the official seal of the Kazi. Citations of similar 
cases were often made by the alyamas, who acted as advisers 
to the Kazi. The Kazi had jurisdiction in all civil suits, but 
only in small criminal matters, the larger being reserved for 
the decision of the Bek himself. Persons who were dissatisfied 


with the decisions of the Kazi could lay an appeal before the 
Bek, who in some cases left such appeals without attention, in 
others he called a session of all the Kazis of the place for in- 
vestigation of the matter. The Kazi Kalian was the president 
of this session and kept order there, which gave him a great 
influence, for the other Kazis usually considered it a duty to 
agree with him in everything, not only on account of his ex- 
perience and learning, but also from a desire to stand well with 
him. The more important criminal cases were sent by the Bek 
to this session of Kazis for decision, but capital and heavy 
punishments could not be inflicted except with the confirmation 
of the Bek. 

When the Kussians occupied Tashkent and prepared regu- 
lations for the government of the country it was considered 
best not to touch the principle of the native courts. The Kazi, 
besides deciding all ordinary suits, had special charge of mar- 
riages, divorces, and all family matters, which were governed 
by rules coming from the Koran, and it would therefore be im- 
possible to abolish his jurisdiction without hurting the religious 
feelings of the Mussulmans. As this was very undesirable it was 
thought best to retain the Kazis. The Russians had the examples 
of the Caucasus and the Crimea, where the Kazis had been re- 
tained, and where by giving a right of appeal or choice, on con- 
sent of both the parties, to the Russian Court, the importance of 
the Kazis had gradually diminished, and the jurisdiction of the 
Russian courts had greatly extended among the Mussulman 
natives, except for family matters. The Russians, too, might 
have learned something from the English in India. In 1864 
the Kazis in India were abolished, a step which caused great 
discontent among the Mussulmans, as it was found impos- 
sible without them to have legal marriages or to settle divorce 
or abduction cases. The English finally saw the error 
into which they had fallen, and lately revived the Mussul- 
man courts of the Kazis. Though the Russians had every 
right and reason to follow the example of the previous Central 
Asiatic rulers and appoint the Kazis, yet, from a curious devo- 
tion to the principle of popular election, which in a country 
like this, accustomed only to arbitrary rule, was of very doubt- 
ful application, established that they should be elected for a 
limited term by the best men of the community, in the same 


manner as the aksakals and police officials. This elective 
system has turned out very badly, bribery and corruption 
having become prevalent in the elections, and direct pressure 
being at times exerted by the authorities for their favourites, 
certain persons being excluded from the lists as being fanatical, 
and the choice of certain candidates almost commanded. The 
importance of individual judges was somewhat diminished by 
abolishing the office of Kazi Kalian, appointing each Kazi to 
a separate district, and rendering it obligatory for the inhabi- 
tants of the district to have recourse to his judgment, and by 
making all the Kazis equal among themselves. The Kazi had 
final decision in all civil matters of less than a hundred rubles, 
but in suits for sums greater than a hundred rubles, and for the 
lesser criminal affairs, — the more important criminal cases being 
reserved for the Kussian courts, — there was arranged a session 
of all the Kazis of a district. At the same time the privilege 
was given that on the appeal of both parties, either before the 
session of the Kazis or after it, the dispute could be referred to 
the Eussian courts. There was no qualification required for 
the office of Kazi except that the candidates should be in good 
repute among the community, over twenty-five years of age, 
and not accused or condemned by any court. No salary was 
fixed by the Government, but it was allowed to the community 
in which they lived, before electing them, to give them a salary 
or to permit them to receive fees on affixing their seals. In 
the city of Tashkent there are four Kazis, whose decisions have 
in general given satisfaction, and there have been as yet few 
appeals to the Kussian courts ; but during the last three years 
there have been instances where several of the Kazis have been 
accused of having taken bribes and of having been influenced 
in their decisions, so that some of them have been removed. 
In one instance the Kazi, being hand-and-glove with certain of 
the officials in some land speculations, was retained for a long 
time against the popular will, and he was only removed when 
an outbreak was threatened. 

The whole Mohammedan legislation is based on the Koran, 
the traditions and books which interpret it, and the decisions 
and examples of the first Khalifs in accordance with it. This 
code of law, contained, with all its glosses and commentaries, 
in numberless volumes, is called the Shariat — the road for 


reaching heavenly bliss. 1 It is impossible to give in a few 
words any idea of Mussulman law, but I cannot help laying 
stress on the principle which is its foundation, namely, that in 
the actions of Mussulmans good faith is always to be supposed. 
The judge is never to suppose either deceit or malice in the 
action of anyone until that person has admitted it or it has 
been shown by proof. If in a suit before the Kazi a defendant 
do not admit the justice of the plaintiffs demand he is 
obliged either to bring witnesses on his side or to take an oath 
that the complaint is unjust. If he take this oath the case 
is at an end. In some cases it is possible for the defendant 
to demand that the plaintiff take an oath that his complaint 
is correct. If he swear to it, the matter is decided in his 
favour ; if he be unwilling to do so, the matter is decided 
in favour of the defendant. If the defendant absolutely de- 
mand that the plaintiff take an oath, and refuse himself to take 
one, and after the demand — three times repeated — of the Kazi 
should still refuse, the matter is decided against him. The 
repugnance to taking an oath is so great that it is considered 
a great insult to be requested to do so, and often a suitor, 
though he may have a perfectly just claim, will prefer to lose 
it rather than lower his dignity in the eyes of himself and hi« 
friends by swearing to his complaint or defence. It is but fair 
to say for the Mussulmans that they show great good faith in . 
their transactions with one another, and suits-at-law are much 
less common than in many more civilised countries. 

Sometimes, in default of evidence, resort is had to super- 
stitious means for discovering the truth. In a certain case of 
theft suspicion fell on several persons of bad reputation, although 
there was no plain proof against them. Finally the Aksakal 
gave an order to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood to ' pile 
earth,' which meant that each one had a fixed time in which to 
bring in the corners of his gown some handfuls of earth and 
place it carefully in one heap. When the heap was afterwards 
examined the stolen money was found, and thus the loser re- 
covered his property without the thief being known. In 
another case I was told of, the suspected persons were ordered 
each to swai.ow a small piece of bread. The guilty party, excited 

1 In Turkistan the Shariat is chiefly expounded from the • Mukhtes8er-ul» 
vikaiyat,' and the ' Sheriaul-Islam.' 


probably by the commotions of bis conscience, was unable to 
swallow it, and immediately made confession and restored the 
stolen property. Another way is to write the names of all the 
accused on small pieces of paper and shake them up in a wash- 
bowl. Each of the accused is then obliged to poise this bowl 
on the fore-finger of his right hand. If after a little the bowl 
begins to revolve, it shows that the name of the thief is there. 
Several of the names are then taken out and the experiment is 
again tried until only the name of the thief is left in. This 
method, I am assured, is certain, and I presume most believers 
in spiritualism would agree to it. 

The original legislation of Mohammed being made for the 
Arabs of the desert, it was necessarily narrow in its scope, and 
there is some difficulty in applying it to the wants of more 
developed and civilised communities. To accomplish this it 
has been necessary to call in tradition, casuistry, and special 
pleading ; but there are too few broad principles, and too many 
practical applications and petty details in the Mussulman code 
to make casuistry an easy matter. For instance, its provisions 
are too strict as regards trade and inheritance to suit modern 
civilisation ; it is impossible by Mussulman law to purchase or 
sell articles which are not in existence, such as future crops, or 
to take interest on money. But these restrictions are somehow 
successfully evaded by legal fictions, and business goes on 
much the same in Mussulman countries as in others, although 
the spirit of speculation and credit is less rife there. Up to 
the present time the Mussulman code answers well enough the 
needs of Mussulman communities, and in the hands of skilful 
lawyers ft is capable of still greater development. 

We should make an error did we, as is often done, com- 
pare the strict theory of Islam and of Mussulman law as 
laid down in the Koran and in the Shariat, with the practice 
of Christianity and civilisation. A comparison of the theory — 
the strict letter — of the Bible with that of the Koran is not so 
much to the disadvantage of the latter. Were the precepts of 
the Scripture to be carried out to the letter, as has been at- 
tempted at many times and places, civilisation would be almost 
impossible, and life would be at least as restricted as it is now 
in Mussulman countries. Christianity, as expounded by the 
Puritans and the literal believers, constantly inculcates separa- 


tion from the world, exclusive devotion to religious life and re* 
ligious ceremonies, heedlessness of the temporal future, and the 
sundering of every tie which unites man to the world whenever 
it be contrary to the development of the conscience and the 
spiritual life. This is hardly better than the strict regulations 
regarding food, dress, posture, and prayer, which are found in 
the Mussulman code. But in the development of Christian 
civilisation the letter has been disregarded, and Christian sects 
nearly all preach the Gospel according to a far more liberal 
interpretation of it. Science is as strictly precluded by the 
Bible as it is by the Koran, and yet science flourishes. Science 
and art both flourished once under Mussulman rule as well. 
When Islam first arrived on the civilised soil of Europe and 
Asia, it yielded enough to outside influences to permit of an 
extraordinary development of learning and civilisation, where 
art, science, and philosophy all found their votaries. Since 
that time it has been expelled in great part from Europe ; 
waves of barbarism have passed over Asia, which effectually 
destroyed civilisation and enlightenment there, and threw 
nations into a state of torpor and stagnation from which they 
have never recovered. This, however, was not the effect of 
Mohammedanism, though that religion has had its part in 
keeping up this state of things. Relieved of external influ- 
ences, fanaticism and ignorance had full play. Yet the present 
state of Mussulman countries seems hardly worse than that of 
Europe in the dark ages preceding the Reformation, if we take 
into account the difference of races and national character. 
Unfortunately, the contact of Christian civilisation with Mo- 
hammedan nations has, thus far, only served to develope faults 
and vices under a gloss of civilisation. Reform and progress, 
to be stable, must come from within. But one great attempt 
at reform has yet been made — the Wahhabi movement — which, 
in misdirected zeal, corresponds so closely with the Puritan 
movement in England. There is reason, however, to believe 
that another great revival of Mohammedanism is at hand 
How far it will be beneficial to the world, the future alone car 




The Tashkent bazaar — Sunday bazaar — Silversmiths — Brassworkers — Cutlery 
and arms — Iron-foundries — Tea-houses — Barbers — Apothecaries— Cosme- 
tics — Oils — Dyes — Shoes and Leather — The Kirghiz bazaar — Caravan- 
serais — Hindoos — Money-lending and its subterfuges— Pottery — Embroi- 
dery — Cotton goods — Silk and silk culture — Legendary history of silk — 
Weights and Measures — Money- -Duties and Taxes — The Fair and its 
results — Statistics of Central Asiatic trade — Transportation — Trade routes 
— Proposed railway. 

According to Central Asiatic ideas, a city, to be really such, 
must have a Jumma mosque, that will hold all the inhabitants 
at Friday prayers, and must possess all of the thirty-two guilds or 
trades (kasaba) which are thought to comprise the whole world of 
commerce. Possibly there were thirty-two guilds originally, 
although there are many more now, but probably this number 
was chosen because the human body is supposed to be made up 
of thirty-two members, for which reason, the body of merchants 
must be made up of thirty-two guilds. Moreover, each branch of 
industry, such as shoemaking, silk-weaving, &c, must have at 
least thirty-two subdivisions. All of these trades are to be seen 
in full working in the bazaar, and it is the bazaar of Tashkent 
that we must now visit. 

As we pass along the great street which divides Tashkent 
nearly into equal parts it becomes straighter and wider. 
Finally, we descend a little hill over the rough stones, and 
cross a rude bridge over one of the canals which water the city, 
with a large mill-pond at the left. Then begin little shops, 
with close by an iron foundry, and a cotton-printing establish- 
ment, walls with skeins of freshly-dyed cotton hanging out 
to dry, and before us is the great medresse of Beklar Bek, 

i "( \ TURKISTAN. 

which is the real beginning of the bazaar. We pass through 
the gate and go up the steep path to the platform of the 
mosque, whence we can overlook the whole bazaar, and yet we 
see only three or four shops. We look over what seems to be a 
flat clayey plain toward the hill beyond, crowned by another 
mosque, near which rises the domed roof of a bath. The bazaar 
lies in the winding valley between these hills, and we see merely 
the flat mud roofs of the houses and shops, overgrown some- 
times with grass and poppies. It is only when in the very 
bazaar that we have any idea of it, and it is only by walking 
there day after day that we can begin to realise its size, for the 
streets are so crooked and so thronged with people that there 
is no vista whatever. The foot-passenger must keep carefully 
to the raised paths by the side of the shops, or he will run the 
risk of being trampled on by the Kirghiz and Sarts riding 
heedlessly along on horses and asses. Each street is devoted to 
a single trade ; here are the silk shops, there the jewellers, 
here the brass workers, while occasionally a large gateway with 
a court beyond marks the place of a caravanserai for the ac- 
commodation of guests and the storage of goods. Here and 
there are open spaces, in the centre of which are small boothy 
sheltered for the most part by umbrellas and mushroom-like 
awnings of woven reeds, while all about perambulatorv vendors 
collect in groups. Here is a small kitchen with cabobs and 
patties cooking over the coal -fires, here a tea shop, there the 
stand of a baker, and next perhaps a man, sitting crosslegged 
on a high platform, deals out spoonfuls of snow and sugary 
syrup to the boys at a tcheka each. The sun pours down in the 
streets and makes the bazaar intensely hot, for there are few 
awnings spread over the street as in many other Asiatic bazaars. 
Each shop is merely a small square room with perhaps a still 
smaller one behind it, quite open to the street, as the boards 
which compose the front of the shop are all taken down in the 
day-time. The merchant sits crosslegged on a rug or bit of 
matting, while his wares either occupy the rest of the floor, or 
are placed on shelves behind him. Most of the shops are so 
small that there is rarely place for a friend or two inside with 
him. The customers either stand in the street, or sit on their 
horses, or take their positions on the threshold of the shop. 


The whole bazaar is old and primitive, looking as though it had 
seen no change nor improvement for a century. General 
Tchernaief proposed to make two wide boulevards through the 
old town, crossing each other at right angles, and the Prefect 
of the city has long desired to improve the bazaar by making- 
through it a wide straight street, well paved or macadamised, con- 
necting it with the Eussian quarter of Tashkent. This would 
lead to the reconstruction of some portion of the bazaar, and 
would be of great benefit, not only to trade, but to health. This 
project, however, has been three times rejected by the Grovernor- 
Greneral on the ground that it would be detrimental to trade, 
that is, that it would increase the trade of the native bazaar 
and draw people away from the newly started fair on the other 
side of the city, of which I shall speak presently. 

The chief day for the bazaar in Tashkent is Wednesday ; 
not that there are not always customers and that the shops 
are not open on every day, but on Wednesday there is far more 
trade, and people come in from the country bringing in what 
little things they have to sell. The throng is then so great 
that it is difficult to move about with comfort. I am speaking 
only of the great bazaar, for there are besides this several 
smaller ones near the gates, and especially one called the Urda 
bazaar at the edge of the Russian town near the former citadel 

A new bazaar has of late grown up in the Russian town, 
chiefly for the sale of bread, fruit, meat, vegetables, and small 
wares, being in fact a market devised for the Russians. This 
is chiefly frequented on Sundays, and thence takes the name of 
1 Sunday bazaar.' The name of ' Drunken bazaar,' which has 
been given to it by the Russians, is probably owing to its being 
full of drunken soldiers, for in Tashkent these are not kept 
under the strictest discipline, and it is found that imprisonment 
is of no avail as a cure for intemperance. 

I often used to stroll about the bazaar alone, or with the 
Mullah or other friends, either bargaining with the shopkeepers, 
or sitting on the thresholds and looking at the labours of the 
artisans, or watching the trade that was going on. The shop- 
keepers were always ready to trade, although with a certain 
methodical slowness, never showing you more than one or two 


articles at a time, bringing down one or two more, if these 
did not suit you, and never seeming eager to induce you to 
purchase. If you told them that you did not want to buy any- 
thing, but had merely come for tomasha, or amusement, they 
were always ready to explain and show you everything you 
wished to see. Their commercial calculations seemed to be 
peculiar, for they always objected to selling their whole stock of 
any article at once; and if they did so, always asked a higher 
price in consequence. As one man said, ' Why, I have enough 
goods now to trade for a week, and if I sell them all to you, 
what shall I busy myself with ? ' 

I was particularly interested with the jewellers. Their shops 
are all collected in one small street, and it was amusing to sit 
and watch them by turns. Upon every new occasion they pro- 
duced to me a few articles which they never seemed to think of 
before. Their stock-in-trade was always very small ; a few 
silver rings and earrings, belt clasps and amulets to be worn on 
the shoulders or in the hair, and sometimes necklaces and brace- 
lets set with pieces of coloured glass. There were few precious 
stones to be had, and none that seemed of value. Everywhere 
were great quantities of turquoises, but nearly always of very 
bad quality, chiefly used for decorating bridles, the horns of 
saddles, and the handles of sabres, where they are all thickly 
set together in silver, and then filed and polished down to one 
uniform surface, looking then much like shagreen leather. 
Their instruments were very simple : a small hand-furnace 
which a boy blew with a bellows, a few forceps and rods, and 
thin silver strips and wires which they made into filagree 
work. Very little of the work seemed to be done in gold ; all 
that I saw consisted of very thin leaves of gold, which were cut 
into small pieces, hammered together, and then stamped in a 
mould. Among the silversmiths were one or two watchmakers, 
principally Tartars, who were occupied in repairing watches of 
European make, or sometimes in making rude imitations, with 
Arab numerals on the dials. The trade in watches must be 
considerable, for most of the richer natives have one or two, 
which they usually keep in a small leathern pouch and produce 
with great delight. In Bukhara one can buy a good Swiss or 
English silver watch almost as cheaply as in Moscow. 

The brass-workers occupy another street on the south side of 


che b&zaar, and the whole neighbourhood is deafened with the 
sound of their hammering. The Russian samovars, which they 
are mending, first strike the eye. These are never made here, 
but are all imported from Russia — as was the case long before the 
Russian occupation. But they manufacture in great numbers 
the native teapots and ewers (kumgan), usually of very gracefid 
shapes, and often of very delicate workmanship, being covered 
with fine ornament cut with a chisel; sometimes portions of the 
surface are covered with a thin coating of tin, which is chiselled 
so as to show the decoration in two metals. There seem, how- 
ever, to be no very skilful master workmen, or else there is 
something greatly lacking in their taste, for these jugs are sel- 
dom completely finished, a beautifully decorated vessel often 
having a rude and clumsy handle, which has not even been filed 
down smooth. For purposes of washing they also make a large 
basin surmounted by a platter, pierced with delicate arabesques, 
to receive the water poured over the hands. Here, as elsewhere, 
the manufacture is divided into several branches, one shop 
making nothing but the bottoms of the ewers, another soldering 
them on, another producing the handles, another the covers, 
while others are occupied in chiselling the ornamentation on 
the sides. At the end of this row are heaps of large iron kettles 
for cooking purposes, brought from Russia. All the iron which 
is used is imported, and the natives work it but little, except 
for making knives and sabres. The greater part of the knives, 
razors, and scissors offered for sale are made of iron, although 
many knives have steel edges welded on, while some are made 
entirely of steel, — usually out of old sabres — and are sold at a 
much higher price. Knives being so necessary to the life of 
every Asiatic, this trade occupies a large number of persons, 
both for the manufacture and the sale. The handles are usually 
made of bone, often richly ornamented, and nearly every knife 
has a case, generally of horse leather dyed green. This is 
fastened to a piece of skin or leather, frequently with orna- 
mented tassels, which is hung on the belt. 

Few good sword-blades .are made now-a-days, as the art in 

this part of Asia appears to be lost. The really fine ones are 

brought from Persia, and are handed down in families from 

father to son. They are therefore considered very precious, and 

vol. I. N 


are larely to be bought even at high prices. I was offered two 
or three sabres, which seemed fair, at prices ranging from lOL to 
20l. There are not many good cutlers now in Russian Turkistan, 
and even in the native states there is no call for blades except 
when a war is imminent, and then the smiths have more than 
they can do ; but in times of peace they devote themselves to 
the manufacture of knives, razors, and small instruments. 
Sword blades are sometimes re-made from good Damask blades 
which have become broken, and this branch of industry is carried 
on to a great extent at Hissar, and to some extent at Samarkand, 
but the more ordinary method of making a blade is to forge it 
from good iron or soft steel, and then weld upon it a thin edge 
from English needles. The native likes this blade because it 
will not break, as its method of manufacture makes it elastic 
and tough. Another method, similar I believe to that practised 
at Toledo, is to make a blade out of horse-shoes, or horse-shoe 
nails, and to put it between two very thin steel blades — those 
made of English needles being preferred — of equal curvature, 
and then to weld the whole into a solid mass, the edge being 
made by the union of the two steel blades. Most of the blades 
here are very much curved, few are straight. The wheel used in 
sharpening them is of wood, covered with leather thickly spread 
with emery powder. A strap is passed twice around its horizontal 
axle and pulled in alternate directions by one man, thus giving 
the wheel a motion first to right and then to left, while another 
applies to it the edge of the knife. 

As to fire-arms, almost the only kind manufactured in 
Central Asia is the matchlock, the barrel being chiefly of rough 
European make or of old pattern, brought principally from India 
and Persia. In Tashkent there are a few iron-foundries, which 
are mostly occupied in making small articles for household use, 
such as lamps, which resemble very much the old Roman lamp 
in form, but are of far grosser workmanship ; for, owing to the 
imperfect liquefaction of the iron, the surfaces are always rough. 
The whole process of casting is very primitive. A foundry con- 
sists of a court, with a shed at one side open always to the south, 
bo as to give the sun's rays full play for drying the moulds. 
Fragments of iron mixed with charcoal are placed in an open 
iron pot lined with clay on a rude forge, which is fed by bellows 
worked by hand. When the iron is melted the pot is lifted off 



by hooks, and the contents are either ladled out, or in case of 
large articles poured into the moulds, which are sometimes skil- 
fully made. The technical terms and the very name of the 
trade {dig-vizi, kettle-casting) being Tadjik would seem to show 
that this branch of manufacture was brought from Persia. 

Weary with the heat we take refuge in one of the tea- 
houses (tchai-khana), 1 where a group of natives is discussing 
the latest local gossip, or the rumours from the Khivan expedi- 
tion. We sit down on a silk mattress) and the boy — these 
houses seem to be always kept by boys — throws a handful of 


green tea into a brass jug, fills it from the great Kussian samo- 
var, which stands at the entrance, lets it simmer a moment on 
the coals, and sets it before us, bringing us at the same time a 
small china bowl. We give a bystander a few small coins and 
he buys us a few lumps of sugar, some kishmish, or raisins, 
some small round cakes of hot bread, and some delicious apri- 
cots. If we wish for them we can have some meat patties from 
the cook-shop round the corner. Nothing but tea is sold in these 
tea-houses, and the natives bring their own bread and raisins 

1 Although both parts are native words, this compound expression was intro- 
duced by the Kussians, and has now obtained the rights of citizenship. In speak- 
ing to each other Sarts usually say ' the samovartchi 's,' using a word derived from 
the Russian — but long ago. 

N 2 


tied up in the folds of their girdles, which when spread out 
serve as their table-cloths. 

We wind up with cigarettes, while our neighbours who are 
discussing the gossip of the day over their bowls of tea, take 
each a puff at a huge gourd pipe. On leaving the tea-house we 
find close by a barber in the act of shaving a customer's head. 
He uses no soap, but wets the scalp thoroughly from a small 
brass basin, and with admirable skill takes the hair off with a 
most uncomfortable looking iron razor stuck in a handle like a 
pen-holder. He then washes the head again, dries it on a towel, 
and with one turn of the razor takes an inch from the middle 
of the moustache. God forbid that he touch the beard or the 
ends of the moustache, but all laws of Mussulman propriety 
demand that the part immediately under the nose should be 
shaved clean. The barber, as in all primitive countries, is a 
surgeon as well, and will let your blood or operate on you as 
best he can, but he has no connection with the apothecary's 
shop over the way. 

The little drawers, the round boxes with coloured labels, and 
the bunches of dried herbs, leave no doubt as to which that is. 
Here you can find all the drugs known to the Asiatic pharma- 
c >poeia. You can get, too, Persian dried lemons of the size of 
a nutmeg, but which when broken and soaked in your tea leave 
a decided flavour, small mirrors, and Eussian paper ; and here, 
also — as the very name of the shop, attar-khana, would indicate 
— you can find all the cosmetics used by the women, although 
these have but a small sale, as any garden will furnish the 
articles commonly used. 

The most necessary is, perhaps, usma, a species of woad 
(Isatis) which furnishes a black colour for painting the eye- 
brows. The juice of the fresh leaves is squeezed into a tea-cup, 
and is applied with a small piece of reed instead of a brush, or 
with the finger. Fashion demands that not only the eyebrows, 
but also the space between them, shall be painted so as to make 
one long line. The colour is at first a dirty green, but in a few 
moments it becomes a bluish black, though it soon disappears, 
and has to be renewed every two or three days. This custom is 
so prevalent that even children of less than a year old are thus 
decorated. Surma, a black powder of antimony, is used for 
painting the eyelashes, even by men, and is thought to relieve 



the inflammation of the eyes caused by dust and wind. Upa, 01 
white lead, brought from Kussia, and rice-powder are the most 
common preparations for whitening the face, but they are used 
only by women whose complexion is very yellow. The clear 
olive complexion, which is sometimes seen among the pure 
Tadjiks of Samarkand, is not defiled with powder, as it is 
thought very beautiful of itself. Eouge (iglyk) is prepared by 
soaking cotton wool in an infusion of the root of some boragi- 
nous plant. Henna, for colouring the nails, is replaced by the 
common garden balsam. The leaves and flowers are bruised, 
mixed with a little alum, and at night bound about the nails of 
the fingers and toes, which in the morning will have a yellowish 
red colour. It was formerly the custom for the women, especi- 
ally the old ones, to paint their teeth black with a powder 
composed of the gall of the pistachio tree mixed with the scales 
from a blacksmith's forge, but this has in great measure gone 
out of fashion. There are no pomades for the hair, which is 
cleaned solely by being thoroughly rubbed with sour milk and 
then washed in warm water. I do not know whether it is the 
result of this practice or not, that the women all have wonder- 
fully thick and long, although coarse hair. They perfume their 
persons either by carrying a bunch of some sweet-smelling plant, 
usually basil, or with rose-water, which is used to such an extent 
as sometimes to make the society of women very unpleasant. 
Baths and houses are frequently perfumed by burning gums or 
roots, the most expensive and most esteemed of which is sum- 
bul, the real nature of which was for a long time a puzzle. 
Mr. Fedtchenko managed to obtain a living root of it, which 
was successfully planted in the Botanical Gardens at Moscow, 
and proved to be an umbelliferous plant, to which the name was 
given of Euryangium Sumbul. 

Two kinds of cosmetic soap are made, but usually the soap 
is very dirty and ill-smelling, being made by boiling together 
the ashes of a species of Salicornia, lime, and the lowest quality 
of tallow. Oil for cooking, lighting and other purposes is 
pressed from various kinds of seed, the most common being 
that from the kunzhut, or sesame. This is used chiefly in the 
preparation of food, but it frequently has a bad odour and a dis- 
agreeable taste, in consequence of being mixed with indau, 
(Eruca) and cotton seed. As the indau grows among tbe 


sesame, it is very difficult to prevent this admixture, but the 
cotton seed is used principally to increase the bulk of the resi- 
due, which brings a high price as food for animals. A special 
oil is also made from the indau for use in veterinary practice. 
Linseed oil is most common after sesame, and is used partly in 
food, but chiefly for lighting. Oil from walnuts, sunflower- 
seed and poppy-seed, is made in small quantities for use by the 
better classes. Hempseed oil is little used in cookery, because 
it acts on the head in the same way as hashish. From the 
seeds of the caper-plant an excellent oil is prepared, which 
burns with a clear bright flame without smoke. Candles are 
also manufactured from ordinary tallow, both candles and oil 
being sold in separate shops. 

In similar small shops are sold the dye-stuffs in use. Be- 
sides indigo imported from India and Brazil, and other dye- 
woods coming from Eussia, and madder, which grows wild and 
is also much cultivated in the gardens, there are some dyes, the 
use of which is perhaps peculiar to the country. One of these, 
isparuk, is a sulphur-yellow larkspur (Delphinium sulphureum) 
which grows in great abundance on the Steppes. 1 An infusion of 
its flowers gives a beautiful and permanent bright yellow dye. 
Another yellow dye is tukhmak, the flowers of Sophora Japonica. 
Pugak, a fungus growing on the mulberry tree, especially in 
Khokand, is used for dying skins a greenish yellow colour. Pome- 
granate peel is greatly emplo} T ed for dying black. Another and 
the most common black dye is buzguntch, which is not a fruit, as 
some have supposed, but the gall-nut of the pistachio tree. Cochi- 
neal is frequently used for dying silk red. It is chiefly brought 
from Bukhara, although the insect is found in abundance in the 
spring in Tashkent and the neighbourhood, on the young leaves 
of the ash, mulberry and other trees. Since the introduc- 
tion offuchsine from Eussia the use of cochineal and of other 
native dyes have fallen off. For that reason in Khokand the 
Khan prohibited the importation of fuchsine, as being an 
inferior dye-stuff. A kind of Indian ink is prepared for 
painting as well as for writing, by boiling together with rice 
and water the soot obtained by burning linseed oil. When it 
has reached a sufficient thickness it is allowed to dry in cakes. 

1 This plant would be very pretty for gardens, and might be of use in com- 
merce. Unfortunately the seeds I brought did not germinate. 


One whole street is taken up with the shoemakers, some 
giving their whole work to galoshes, some to the soft morocco 
boots so much in vogue, others to riding-boots with their soles 
studded with nails and with small sharp heels, each shop being 
devoted to a specialty, if it be only cutting out the leather for 
the soles. The methods of the tanner are very primitive, his 
vats being merely large holes or pits in the ground, although 
be has four different ways of preparing leather. In the first 
method the skins are soaked in a mixture of alum and soda, 
then well cleaned from the hair and washed, covered with a 
mixture of barley meal, and then dried and rubbed with tallow. 
Calf, goat and sheep skins are prepared in the same way, but 
instead of being rubbed with tallow they are tanned with the 
bark of the sumach ( Rheum Emodi). They are coloured black 
with pistachio galls mixed with green vitriol. Yak and buffalo 
hides, after being subjected to the mixture of alum and soda, are 
salted and finally smoked. A kind of chamois-leather, chiefly 
used for riding-trousers, is made of goat and sheep skins in the 
same way and coloured red with madder, and yellow with 
isparak. Saura, a sort of shagreen, which is especially used for 
boots and galoshes, is made from horse and ass hides in much 
the same way ; but, instead of smoking the skins, the tanners 
cut cross-lines in them by means of a sharp instrument, and 
after scattering over them millet seeds, spread felt over them 
and then trample on, or beat them. When the surface is well 
indented the skins are dried ; the seeds are then removed from 
them and copper-filings mixed with a little arsenic and some 
substance, the composition of which is not known, are placed 
on them, by which they obtain a bright green colour. 

Passing through rows of saddles, bridles and harness, leaving 
on our left the shops where carts with their large rude wooden 
wheels are made, we come to what is called the Kirghiz bazaar, 
where are to be found the productions of the nomads, especially 
camel's hair cloth, ropes, carpets and rugs, tent-frames and felt. 
The manufacture of felt is a specialty of the Kirghiz women. 
Placing on the ground a mat of /eeds, they cover it with a thin 
layer of wool, which they beat with rods until it is even. They 
then sprinkle it thoroughly with water, or better with water in 
which oil cake has soaked for some time, and then tightly roll 
up the matting together with the wool, tying it at the enda 


and in the middle, and roll it along the ground, sprinkling it 
from time to time with water, and tightening the cords with 
which it is bound. After it has been sufficiently pressed in this 
way, they untie it and roll it without the matting for several 
hours, sprinkling it at times with water. It is then dried in 
the sun. Some of the Qner kinds of felt are of wonderful 
lightness and beauty. The best is the white felt, brought from 
Kashgar, on which the native rulers are elevated on their 
accession. The rugs and the carpets made by the Kirghiz are 
coarse. The best are made by the Turkomans near Karshi 
and Tehardjui, and are to be found in any quantity only at 
Bukhara. Here also are the shops for selling the various kinds 
of grain and flour, and cotton, both cleaned and in the pod ; 
and near by are booths, where one can procure all the garden 
and flower-seeds known to this country. 

In going through the bazaar we frequently see large gates, 
inside of which are courts filled with merchandise. These are 
caravanserais, partly used for the storage of goods by wholesale 
merchants, and partly also for the accommodation of foreign 
merchants who come for a short time to trade. Three of them 
are occupied almost exclusively by Hindoos, of whom there are 
large numbers in every considerable town of Central Asia, there 
being some 140 in Tashkent alone. They come chiefly from 
Shikarpur, and although engaging in many kinds of commerce, 
devote themselves pre-eminently to money-lending and usury. 
With their tight trousers, their peculiar coats, and the red or 
black caste-marks on their foreheads, apart from their race- 
characteristics, they are easily distinguished. As soon as they 
saw that I was a stranger, they received me most hospitably, 
and each wished to be my entertainer. I tried in vain to find 
one who spoke English, although some could repeat the alphabet 
and the numerals, and say some common phrases. A little room 
at the corner was fitted up as a temple, and on a sort of altar 
were arranged numerous small idols, curious stones, and similar 
little objects. I was obliged to remove my shoes to enter, but, 
once inside, the acting priest took great pains to explain to me 
everything, and it was with great difficulty that I could persuade 
him to accept a small offering for the benefit of his shrine. My 
companion had given himself out as an Englishman, although 
he fouud some difficulty in expressing himself in that language. 



On leaving the caravanserai one of the Hindoos asked if he 
could accompany us for a short distance. He then suggested to 
us to avoid the crowd, and with an air of mystery, took us along 
a retired path by the side of a small stream. Apart, however, 
from praises of the English, and complaints against the Sarts, 
he had no confidences to give us. His whole action, however, 

was so peculiar, that my companion concluded he must have 
some secret mission from the Indian Government to report on 
the conditions of things in Tashkent. 

These Hindoos live in little menages of one or two ex- 
clusively in the caravanserai, partly in order to be near the 
business centre of the town, and partly for safety, as they thus 


have greater protection against the possibly murderous designs 
of insolvent debtors, than they would have in remote houses 
or gardens. Their chief occupation, as I have said, is usury, 
although they are not the only money-lenders, for Jews, Afghans, 
and even native Mussulmans, also engage in this lucrative 
business, it being estimated that there are at least a thousand 
usurers in Tashkent. The Hindoos usually lend sums for twenty- 
four weeks, to be paid in weekly instalments of one tenga to 
every tilla, that is, one nineteenth, making a gain as interest 
in the course of the transaction of five tengas, or about twenty- 
six per cent., which would be fully fifty-six per cent, per annum. 
The rate of interest is sometimes much higher, although 
among Mussulman capitalists four per cent, a month is con- 
sidered fair. As the money is thus paid back in instalments, 
it is evident that a money-lender with a very small capital can 
make a large yearly profit. Lending out money at interest is 
forbidden by Mussulman law, and tradition says that lending 
money freely to the poor is a more worthy action, and will have 
a greater reward from Grod than giving alms. But while the 
Mussulman is strictly forbidden to make a contract for the 
payment of interest, it is perfectly allowable for him to receive 
interest which is voluntarily given by the borrower. Casuists, 
however, have without much difficulty discovered . what are 
called ' paths,' that is, methods of evading the strict letter of 
the law, which, from the places where they were invented, or 
are most customary, are known as the Bukharan, Samarkand, 
Tashkent, and other 'paths.' For instance, the Tashkent 
1 path ' is this. In order to receive the interest of twenty 
rubles on one hundred, the hundred rubles are lent without 
interest, and some small article, as a whip, is nominally sold 
to the borrower for twenty rubles more. This article is called 
shari, i.e., lawful, and must always be the property of the 
seller. The Bukharan way is similar, but here, instead of a 
nominal sale, some article, usually a book, is handed to the 
borrower for safe keeping, and for keeping and using this book 
he pays the sum constituting the interest on the principal lent 
to him. Another method is for the lender to buy of the 
borrower some piece of property, as a house, or a horse foi 
less than its value, paying him at the same time the amount oi 
the loan. A paper is then drawn up before the Kazi, in whi< 


tne lender promises to resell the property to the borrower for 
a sum that will equal the money lent with the interest added. 
Mussulmans, however, perfectly well understand that these 
methods are evasions of the direct religious command, and 
among the traditions as to future punishment is one that the 
usurer will be sealed up in a metallic box, which will then be 
heated in a fire. When the usurer cries out in his torment, 
asking the reason of such punishment, the Almighty and All- 
blessed will answer him, ' You are punished because you took 
usury.' 'But I did not take usury; ' he will reply, 'I sold a 
thing lawfully.' 4 Well,' the All-highest will reply, ' I do not 
burn you, I only heat the box.' Where the borrower is a 
person of property and known for his probity, the lender merely 
makes a note in his account-book, and gives the debtor a 
similar note to remiud him of the payment. In other cases, 
however, the receipt of the debtor is taken and witnessed 
before the Kazi, and frequently large security is demanded. 

The shops of the dealers in china and earthenware cannot 
fail to attract the attention of anyone fond of pottery. The 
ware is coarse and is always rudely, and often carelessly made, 
but the freeness and spirit in design, and the harmony in colour, 
are very pleasing, and render the better-made plates worthy of 
being used for decorative purposes. The designs are usually 
in blue and white, though occasionally a faint bluish green tinge 
is given to the ground, and sometimes yellow or dark violet 
is sparingly used. Chinese porcelain is greatly esteemed by 
the Tashkentians, and brings absurdly high prices. The best 
class of native ware is therefore called tehini (Chinese) and 
bears a clumsy imitation of a Chinese mark. The productions 
of Mohammed Shaky r of Hodjent are considered the best, and 
good things are also made at Samarkand, and especially at 
Andijan. The villages are supplied with the ordinary kinds of 
glazed and unglazed ware by potters from the large towns, who, 
during the summer, make a tour through the country, and 
work from the clay found on the spot — an easy matter, as the 
tools and belongings of the trade are few and simple. Common 
pottery and glazed tiles have long been known, but it is believed 
}hat the manufacture of tehini was very recently introduced 
into the country by a certain Usta-Kasim of Samarkand, who 
had learned it at Meshed, from which place he returned about 


1857. The ingredients used for tchini are a felspathic white 
clay (gil-buta) found in the Karnan mountains, south of 
Kermineh, and near Ablyk, between Tashkent and Khokand, 
quartz (ak-tash, white stone, tash-kum, stone sand) obtained 
from the mountains on the upper Zarafshan, or in the shape of 
pebbles from the gravelly bank of that river near Samarkand, 
and lime and soda (ishkar) derived from the ashes of a species 
of Salicornia. The glaze is made from a mixture of ishkar 
and oxide of lead, with occasionally an admixture of tin, 
which gives the iridescence so much admired in Moorish ware. 
If a greenish glaze is desired, a little verdigris is added. In 
case the vessel is to be ornamented, the colours, which are 
mixed with water and a little cherry or apricot gum, are 
applied with a goat's-hair brush on the dry surface of the glaze 
before firing. Blue is produced by lapis-lazuli, violet by mag'l 
(manganese ?), yellow by ochre, and green by verdigris. Eecent 
excavations at Samarkand show that glass was once made there, 1 
but its manufacture had been forgotten for ages until a Kussian 
company started some works, which proved a failure from the 
defective construction of the ovens. A Siberian glass manu- 
facturer, Isseief, then opened some works at Digmai, near 
Hodjent, which was in successful operation when it was sacked 
and burned by the Khokandians during the summer of 1875. 

Leaving on one side booths where men are dexterously 
turning spindles, reels and other small wooden objects by means 
of a chisel and a small lathe set in motion by a bowstring, passing 
round corners where black-veiled women are selling embroidered 
skull caps and belts, we come to the street where gowns are 
so^d, from those of Kussian printed calico to those of many- 
coloured Bukharan silk, or even velvet and cloth of gold, — these 
last imported of course from Moscow. Here too are the em- 
broiderers. Embroidery here is a trade practised chiefly by the 
men. 2 The cloth, on which the pattern is roughly marked out 
in chalk, is stretched over a hoop, and the workman with a 

1 Lui Yu, a Chinese envoy sent to Hulagu in 1 259, says : ' The doors and win- 
dows are provided with glass.' Tch'ang Tch'un, writing a few years earlier, tells 
us that the vessels for wine were made only of glass. Curiously enough, this 
passage is omitted by Dr. Bretschneider in his translation. 

2 Evidently an old practice, for a Chinese envoy sent to Tchinghiz Khan, it 
1220, says: 'Sewing and embroidery are executed by men.' Bretechneider's 
' Notes on Chinese Mediaeval Travellers tc the Wost,' p. 105 


needle, in shape somewhat like a crochet needle, set in a wooden 
handle, pulls the silken thread through in a sort of chain-stitch 
with the greatest rapidity. The labour is so light and the 
materials so inexpensive that prices for embroidered articles 
are comparatively low. The natives use embroidery principally 
on their caps and their wide leather riding-trousers, but since 
the Kussians have come, there has been such a demand for 
pillows, table cloths, &c, as to give a great impetus to the 
business and to raise the prices. 

Whole rows are filled with cotton goods, among which it is 
impossible not to notice in every shop the large quantity on 
aale of Russian printed fabrics. The native goods are all ol 
coarse texture. The most important is buz, 1 which is undyed 
and generally unbleached, and is especially used for making 
shirts and drawers. It is commonly known among the Russians 
by the name of mata, a name long ago given to it by some 
mistake. Mata is properly a measure of about eight yards, and 
is. the name given to the piece of goods, and not to the fabric 
itself. Daka is a much thinner material, a kind of muslin, of 
which the coarser sort is used for the lining of gowns, and the 
finer kind for turbans. The best turbans, however, are of 
English muslin imported though India. As this is of a quality 
not manufactured in Russia, no effort has ever been made to 
prohibit its importation. Alatcha is a striped material on a 
blue ground, dyed in the thread. Kalama 2 is of a somewhat 
better quality, the stripes usually being on a white ground. 
The natives also print cotton goods, sometimes in three colours, 
by means of wooden stamps, which are applied by hand. 

In 1869 an endeavour was made to see how far the supplies 
for the army could be obtained from the country itself, and it 
was resolved to use the native buz, instead of Russian white 
cotton cloth, for the blouses of the soldiers. Red tape, 
however, was too strong, for the army regulations, which for 
some reason it seemed impossible to change, required material 

1 The Russians have corrupted this word to biaz, but its pronunciation is evi- 
dent from the proverb : 

Suz birar, 
Buz birmas. 
Words he gives, but buz he gives not. 

2 The origin of this word is interesting. It is an abbreviation of kala-mal % 
city, or Russian, wares — Jcala, a fort or city, being commonly used to denote Russia 


of a width of fourteen inches, while buz was never made 
wider than eleven inches. The contractors, therefore, found it 
impossible to procure in Tashkent the desired material, and 
were obliged to have recourse to Bukhara, where cotton pro- 
duction is carried on more largely, and even here it was neces- 
sary to start special factories at Hazhduin l for its manufacture. 
The result is, that while the industry of Tashkent was not in 
the slightest degree benefited, the price of the buz specially 
manufactured for the army was as high as that of the Russian 
goods brought from Moscow, including the cost of carriage, and 
the latter had the merit of being heavier and far more durable. 

The best silk goods are those of Bukhara, next come those 
of Khokand and Hodjent, and then those made in Khiva, the 
least prized being those of Tashkent. In consequence of the 
prohibition of the Koran, the use of pure silk fabrics is confined 
chiefly to women and children, stuffs of mixed silk and cotton 
being principally employed for the men's gowns. Silk goods 
are woven in narrow stripes, or in broad splashes of colour, 
especially red, green and yellow, forming an irregular design, or 
are sometimes quite plain. Much, however, is now made in 
more regular patterns to suit the European market. The 
colours are durable, and the silk has a firmness and brightness 
which it retains after several washings. Of the half silk 
fabrics, the best and most known are bikasab 2 and adras, both 
being usually made in narrow stripes. The gloss is given by 
beating them with a wide flat wooden instrument. 

Owing to the importance of the silk trade in Central Asia, 
I shall perhaps be pardoned if I enter into some details con- 
cerning it. 

The manufacture of silk was, as tradition tells us, introduced 
into Khotan from China, and probably spread to a certain 
extent throughout the whole of Central Asia ; but in Tashkent, 
Hodjent and Samarkand it had entirely died out until it was 
revived after the capture of Merv by Shah Murad Khan in 
1785. He transferred all the inhabitants of this city to 
Bukhara, where they continued the silk culture, which was one 
of their favourite occupations. During the reign of the Amir 

1 Or Hizhduan. 

* I was told that bikasab was derived from bi outside, and hasaba trade guild— 
an evidence of its recent origin. 


Nasrullah, the descendants of these colonists were allowed to 
live in Samarkand, and from that time silk culture began to 
flourish, and is now the chief occupation of many villages of the 
districts of Zarafshan, Hodjent and Kurama. 1 

1 Every trade guild has a written tradition called reseda or ' message,' with 
mythical stories of its origin and directions as to the proper manner of work. In 
the following tradition translated from the Turki and Persian originals, the 
beginning is borrowed from the life of the prophet Ayub or Job in the widely- 
spread book Kassasi-el-Anbia (Lives of the Saints). 

In the name of God the Merciful and the Compassionate ! Praise to God the 
Universal Lord, and eternal blessedness to him who fears him, Reverence and 
peace to his messenger Mohammed, and to his family, and to all his companions ! 
After praise to God and reverence to his messenger, honour to the princes of the 
World, the children of Adam and his descendants ! The sun in the brilliant sky ! 
The nightingale in the gardens of knowledge ! One who has attained the secret 
of the spiritual world ! The translation of universal Right ! The parrot in the 
gardens of truth ! The fulfilment of business is before everything ! In the gardens 
there is grass, and on the grass is a peacock ! He who feeds on what exists in 
heaven and on the earth and who satisfies all ! The unexpectedly-giving ! 

All that I have said above I say in the name of the chosen prophet Mohammed, 
may God be merciful to him and keep him ! With regard to him the great God 
ordered thus : — ' But thou, oh Mohammed ! wert sent only to preach and to warn 
this world. We sent thee, oh Mohammed, as a witness who will give proof 
against them, as an apostle who calls and warns them.' The highest prophets 
with their companions teaching, said: — ' Every prophet has left witnesses to his 
people ; of our brothers Job left the worm.' These worms were created on the tree 
Syr, and God gave them for food its leaves ; through these leaves they received 
strength and crawl on this tree. All this good thing came from the patience and 
mildness of the prophet Job, for, as is related, the great God said to cursed Satan : 
1 Thou hast not fulfilled My command, thou hast not thanked for that which has 
been given to thee, and thou hast fallen under my curse and thy name will remain 
cursed, but there are people who bow down to me and fear and thank me for their 
happiness.' And Satan answered, ' Show me these people.' Then the great Al- 
mighty God said to the prophet Job, ' Show thyself to Satan, and let Satan take 
an example from thee.' But Job wept and said, ' Oh, thou pure one who keepest 
and givest life, do not be angry with me! ' But the Lord God Almighty then 
said, ' Oh Job, show thyself, and look at my might after that.' Then the prophet 
showed himself to Satan. Satan said to God, ' Thou gavest to this man much 
riches and much of everything, for which he prays to Thee and obeys Thee.' Then 
God said to His Archangel Gabriel, 'Take all the riches from this man.' The 
Archangel Gabriel came down from heaven with a hundred thousand angels, and 
took all the wealth from the man who was pleasing to God ; but notwithstanding 
this the prophet of God ten times increased his prayers. After this God said to 
Satan, ' Oh cursed one ! now hast thou seen that I have taken away all his wealth 
and he has increased his prayers ten times.' Satan answered, ' His body is sound, 
and for that ha praises and thanks Thee.' Then God said to the Archangel 
Gabriel, ' Send disease into his body.' By the order of God the Archangel Gabriel 
sent to Job disease, so that his body, pleasing to God, was covered with worms. 
All these ills and worms the prophet Job endured and lifted up his spirit to God, 


The annual production of silk in Central Asia is estimated, 
after careful calculations, at about four and a half millions of 

thanking, praying, and weeping. After some days these worms increased stil! 
more and ate up the whole body of Job, so that there was not one spot healthy, 
and all was covered with sores. Being very ill and covered with sores he never- 
theless did not cease praying to God ; but once he was so weak that he could not 
lift up a worm which fell from his wounds to place it back again, and he therefore 
begged his wife to pick up the worm and place it in the wound, saying: 'If God 
have ordered me to feed worms with my body it would be sinful to deprive it of 
food.' The wife of the prophet fulfilled his command and placed the worm on the 
body of her husband. But patient Job remained in his place and praised God. 
• I have seen all this,' said Satan to God, ' Job prays to Thee because his heart 
and his tongue are still sound.' Then God commanded the Archangel Gabriel to 
6mite the ground, and from under the ground where there is the sea, called the 
' cea of light,' to obtain water. By the command of God the Archangel Gabriel 
with several thousand angels went down to the earth and smote it with his wing, 
and from under the earth there arose a spring of water ; and there was a command 
to the Archangel Gabriel to hurl the prophet Job into the water and see the wisdom 
of God. By command of God the prophet Job threw himself into the spring and 
in that minute made himself whole. The worms fell from him, his body became 
sound and his rotting places became whole. 

This spring so remained under the name of ' the sea of light,' and all believers 
who bathe there become whole in body and soid. The worms which were in the 
body of Job crept up into a mulberry tree there and began to eat its leaves, and 
then knitted themselves a covering and shut themselves up in this covering. The 
nest where they remained was called, as it is now, pitta, a cocoon. [According to 
other traditions the worms which fell into the water became leeches and those 
which flew away became bees.] 

The Imam Jagaffar Sadyk being asked the question, ' Who was the first 
silk-winder and inventor of this trade?' said: ' Daud-darai came to that tree 
where were the worms, and taking a cocoon in his hand said to God: " Oh pure 
giver of all creatures on the land, these worms have come away from the body of 
Thy friend and have placed themselves on this tree, and they feed themselves on 
it, and here they spin cocoons which serve as a covering for their bodies ; wouldst 
Thou open to me how cocoons were formed, and how the worms proceeded from 
the body of Thy friend, so that people should profit by them and remember him? " 
He had not yet finished these words when he opened his eyes and saw a man who 
said to him, " Dost thou know me ? " he answered, " No." The man said, " Thou 
hast asked of God, and I am God's treasurer and fulfil thy wish. Tell me what 
wishest thou ? " Daud-darai said, " My wish is that it should be shown to me 
what cocoons are ? " Then the man began to teach him. " Throw this cocoon 
into hot water and beat it with a stick, and see the power of God." Daud-darai 
did so, and the cocoon was found to be silken.' After that the Imam Jagaffar said, 
•' Young men, carry on your trade.' And by his order they wrote all in this book 
so that the people of the Prophet should avail of this knowledge of the Prophet 
and should wish them well. 

Daud-darai learned from Hazyr thus : 'First throw the cocoons into the water 
nnd seizing in the right hand a crooked stick say: "In the name of God the 
Merciful and the Compassionate!" and strike the cocoons; then on this stick 
tb.8re will be a thread which is called silk.' The learned Talus Hakim took asd 


pounds avoirdupois, of which one million and a half is from 
Bukhara, and the same quantity from Khokand. Khiva pro- 
turned it about, and from him learned Akhmet Khayan and many other saints 
and masters of this art. Profiting by this business give alms and do good for 
them. All who engage in this business should fulfil the following rites ; wash 
themselves and make two rakaat ; after the obeisauce read three times the Sura 
Ikhlas, and this prayer will serve God for an oifering for the teachers, and through 
it help will be asked for their souls. He who fulfils all that has been here said 
will have success in business and will never need for his daily bread. For this 
business there are still some rites and some precautions ; the workman ought to 
fulfil them. He should wash before beginning to work, should make two obei- 
sances, should be pure in spirit and thought before beginning work, and remember 
that all this business is the gift of God, should be clean in his eating, and sleep 
purely, should be affectionate and not malicious, should always use good words, 
should be obedient to his teachers, and during the time of his work should not 
have intercourse with those people who speak badly of others. He should always 
receive from his companions blessing and praise to God, that is, should say Allah 
Akhbar, and have constantly on his tongue the name of God. [Then follow other 
good counsels of a similar sort as to the conduct of workmen, and finally some 
special advice.] 

If the teacher should be asked what should be recited while going from home 
to the shop where cocoons are worked, he should answer : ' In the name of God the 
merciful, our God, we have done ill, pardon us ! ' If he should be asked what the 
workmen should recite when they take the stick in their hands, he should answer : 
'Oh God, Thou hast made us unendingly happy.' If he should be asked what 
the winders ought to recite when they lift up the stick, he should answer : • By 
His pure wisdom may God cleanse us from our sins.' If he should be asked what 
the winders should recite when they take the end of the silk from the stick, he 
should answer: 'We thank the God of Paradise ! ' If he should be asked what 
the winders ought to say when the thread is applied to the reel, he should 
answer : 'They should think of the way to paradise and should recite the verse, 
" Direct us into the right road." ' When the pupil regulates the fire he should 
remember that fire is of hell, which burns people and even stones. 'When they 
shut the shops what ought they to do ? ' he should answer : ' They should take up 
from the ground all that has fallen on it during the time of work and recite, " May 
all our voluntary and involuntary sins of this day be forgiven us." ' Then the 
workmen ought reverently to rise from their seats with their left foot and go out 
backwards. In this way for every operation of the art there are certain pious 
sentences which should be recited and meditated upon. If one who is truly wise 
wish to occupy himself with this business, he should learn from a teacher, and 
should keep his thoughts and eyes from sin, his hands from uncleanness, his feet 
from wickedness, and his mouth from sinful food. He should trust his teackers, 
and not speak nor listen to bad words. If anyone say what is bad, answer h*m 
with good, and speak the truth and do not lie. Do not know one who speaks 
untruth and acts badly. If anyone do not fulfil the rites which are here 
written, and do not believe his teachers and the saints saying, ' I do not trust 
them,' he speaks untruth and considers the saints as his enemies. If anyone shall 
be constantly pure, and shall constantly magnify God, he will receive the reward 
of God in this book and also from the four prophets, Adam, purified of God; 

"VOL. I. O 


duces about a hundred thousand pounds, Kashgar four hundred 
thousand, and the Russian possessions nearly a million more,' 

The climate of Central Asia is in the highest degree favour- 
able to silk culture. There is almost no rain nor hail during the 
summer, while thunderstorms and violent winds are infrequent, 
and it is therefore possible to do without artificial heat and ven- 
tilation. At the same time there is abundance of the indispen- 
sable food of the worms,— the mulberry tree. The causes which 
limit the quantity and quality of the silk production are in the 
methods of breeding and in the mode of life of the inhabitants. 

The rearing of silk-worms is not considered a particularly 
honourable occupation in which rich and well-to-do people 
engage to pass the time, and except in those localities where 
the culture is greatly developed it is almost solely the employ- 
ment of the women of the family. Being thus confined to the 
women's court it is difficult to study it and to devise measures for 
its improvement. It is evident from the differences in the colour, 
form and size of the cocoons, that there are several varieties of 
silk-worms reared in Central Asia, but they are so unscientifi- 
cally treated, and have been allowed to cross so much, that it is 
difficult to get at the typical characteristics of each variety. 
The natives distinguish two kinds, the commoL one of a 
milky white colour, which is simply called silk-worm, ipek-kurt y 
and another of a dark colour, called Arabian (arabi). Yet the 
cocoons of these two varieties do not seem to differ, both having 
the variations just mentioned. Some silk-worms, however, 
have four periods and others five, the eggs of the first kind 
being said to be somewhat larger. By careful breeding the 
original types of these different varieties could probably be re- 
curred to, and some of them would perhaps prove valuable. 
The eggs of silk-worms are kept in small cotton bags hung to 
the ceiling. In places where silk culture is prevalent they are 
sold in the bazaars, in the apothecary's, or in the provision 
shops. The bazaar price in spring of a small thimbleful, in 
which are about two thousand eggs, varies from twenty to 

Noah, the prophet of God ; Abraham, the beloved of God ; and Mohammed, the 
chosen. Reverence and peace to them all ! 

1 See the excellent ' Report on Silk Culture in Central Asia,' by N. F. Petrof- 
eky, Agent of the Ministry of Finances (pp. 120, xi. Tashkent, 1873), to which I 

am greatly indebted. 


thirty kopeks. Then soundness is tested by putting them into 
water, those which sink being considered good. At the begin- 
ning of April the women put the eggs into small bags and tie 
them next to their body round their waist, or under their arms, 
turning them over every day. The heat thus obtained may be 
a natural one, but it is accompanied by exudations which can- 
not but prove injurious to the worms. After about a week the 
worms begin gradually to appear. The bags are then opened 
every day and the worms that are hatched are placed on a large 
tray, which is covered with a clean cloth and set in a sunny place, 
although sheltered with gauze from the sun's direct rays. If 
the days and nights be especially cold, these trays are placed 
on the sandal, or brasier used for warming the room. During 
the first two periods the worms are fed with mulberry leaves 
carefully picked off, and as they grow care is taken to give 
them more room and better places. After the second period 
the worms are transferred to shelves placed along the sides of 
the room in which they are kept, and which is half darkened, 
having no light save what comes in at the door, and they are 
then fed three times a day with small mulberry twigs. The 
old twigs are never removed, but the new food is placed on the 
top and the worms gradually crawl upwards out of the dirt 
and refuse, which is perhaps the only reason why this careless 
method of feeding them does not kill them. Finally, small 
branches, and especially of a dry plant with a bright pink flower, 
named ming-bash (thousand heads), are placed on the shelves 
so that the worms can crawl into them and there spin their 
cocoons. The life of the silk-worm from the egg to the cocoon 
varies, according to circumstances and nourishment, from forty 
to seventy days. 

No one with sufficient botanical knowledge has accurately 
studied the different kinds of the mulberry, which is by far the 
most common tree in Central Asia. Of the varieties distingu- 
ished by the natives, the four most important are the hassak, 
which is the wild mulberry cultivated from the seed and used 
greatly for silk-worms, and also serving as the stock on which 
other varieties are grafted ; the shah-tut, brought originally 
from Persia ; and the balkhi, introduced from Balkh, the 
largest and most beautiful variety of all, and the most common 
tree in the Zarafshan valley ; and the khorasmi, from Khorasm, 

o 2 


or Khiva. The large white, almost seedless, berries of this last, 
both when fresh and dried, are greatly used for food. They are 
sometimes made into a flour, which mixed with water is a 
refreshing drink, and with wheat flour makes a paste called 
tid-halvah. 1 

Mulberry trees are raised from the seed, which is planted in 
May and June. In a year's time the young trees will be five 
feet high and as thick as the little finger, when they are 
thi uned out and transplanted, all not required being used for 
feeding the worms. In the second or third year they are 
grafted and the next year produce fruit. When used for silk- 
worms, it is common, instead of stripping off small twigs, to cut 
off huge branches, reducing the tree to a pollard. Healthy 
grafted trees three years old of good size sell on the bazaars for 
from twenty to fifty kopeks, according to the variety. The cut 
branches of a tree, according to its size and the demand for the 
leaves, bring from one to four rubles. In 1871, the prices of 
mulberry leaves in Hodjent, on account of the over-production 
of silk, stimulated by speculation, rose from sixty kopeks to 
over two rubles for an ass-load of five bundles. 

As soon as the cocoons are spun, they are taken into the 
court, stripped from the twigs to which they are fastened, and 
in order to kill the worms, spread on a mat exposed for several 
days to the full power of the sun, being gathered together in a 
heap at night and covered up. For the purposes of breeding, 
the largest and best cocoons are picked out, particular attention 
being given to the form and none to the colour, except that 
they should have a watered or moire appearance. Some thirty 
of these are strung on a thread by passing a needle under the 
outside layer. The strings are left for three days on the cool 
clay floor of the hut and are then put into cotton bags which 
are hung by long nails to the walls or ceilings. On the fourth 
day the butterflies come out and immediately begin to lay eggs, 
it being from ten to fourteen days from the spinning of the 
cocoon to the appearance of the butterfly. Coupling goes on 

1 An analysis of leaves of five kinds of mulberries from Central Asia was made 
by Dr. Reichenbach, who found an average of 37*36 parts of azote in 1000, corre- 
sponding to 233 parts of proteine, their leaves being fully as rich as those of China 
nnd Japan. Unfortunately the quantity of leaves sent was too small for a 
more minute analysis. — Turkistan Gazette, No. 42, 1873. 


from about nine in the morning till noon ; and about three in 
the afternoon the female begins to lay her eggs and continues 
till midnight. 

The butterfly lives but a day and a half and lays about 450 
eggs, of which a quarter are unfruitful. In the Caucasus, with 
the same conditions of climate and nourishment, a butterfly 
lives three days and lays fully 600 eggs. It is a custom 
sanctified by tradition, to exchange silkworms' eggs every three 
or four years if possible for those of some distant place, or 
at least for those of one's neighbours. Cocoons are usually sold 
in the bazaar in their fresh state before they are dried, and 
during the whole month of June the trade in them is very 
brisk, the prices ranging from seven to twelve rubles a pud. 1 
The prices for dried cocoons, which are not sold on the bazaar, 
are far more variable, sometimes rising to forty or fifty rubles a 

In Khokand it was formerly the custom to present the first 
cocoons to the Khan, who in return gave a sarpai, or complete 
suit of clothes (from Persian sar, head, and pai, foot). When 
Shir Ali Khan, Khudayar's father, who had lived all his life 
among the Kirghiz, came to the throne, he was as usual pre- 
sented with the first cocoons, and, supposing them to be some 
rare fruit, ate them with the greatest composure. 

A family of four persons can raise on an average about three 
puds of undried cocoons, for which it uses nearly an ounce of 
eggs that were received from a pound and a half of cocoons, 
and twenty mulberry trees of medium size, costing about fifteen 
rubles. Thus, without counting the insignificant expense of 
apparatus and the cost of personal labour, the expenses for this 
quantity of cocoons reach about eighteen rubles. The receipt 
of an average price of nine rubles a pud would be twenty-seven 
rubles, leaving a profit of nine rubles, although in most cases 
the profit is much greater, because people usually have mul- 
berry trees of their own and are not obliged to buy the whole 
amount of food consumed by the worms. 

The natives have uoticed four different diseases of the silk- 
worm, which they ascribe either to the cold, to wet mulberry- 

1 The pud (a Russian weight) is 40 pounds Russian or 36 pounds English. 
The ruble I have taken as equal to 30^ pence or 61 cents, thus making 7'30 
rubles to the pound sterling, and about 5 rubles to 3 dollars. 


leaves, or to the presence of persons who have not pei formed 
all the ablutions demanded by their religion. Mr. Fedtchenko, 
in his microscopic observations, discovered the presence of 
comalia, or the cor.puscules causing the disease called pebrine, 
which has made such havoc among European silkworms. Some 
cocoons from which he got no butterflies were filled with 
quantities of these corpuscules, and they were also found in 
small numbers on the wings of butterflies that had come from 
the cocoons. As silkworms in Turkistan were entirely cut off 
from those in Europe, his observations led him to believe that 
the disease caused by these paiasites existed everywhere, and 
was only noticed by breeders, and became epidemic, in case of 
a very great development of the parasites, while a small number 
of them had no influence on breeding ; and further, that the 
multiplication of the parasites, and the infection and death of 
all the worms, was directly affected by the number bred in a 
given place, and by the care taken of them, as he proved that 
caterpillars coming from sound eggs become infected by the 
excremental matters of a few diseased worms becoming mixed 
with the food. 

The method of silk-winding is of a piece with that of 
breeding. Numbers of unsorted cocoons are thrown into a pot 
of boiling water, and are stirred with a stick, and when the 
ends of the threads are fished up in proper number, they are 
wound on a large reel until all the cocoons are used ; then the 
water is changed, new fires are lighted, and the process begins 
again. The silk wound directly from the kettle, and then 
reeled off in skeins to be sent for dyeing, is called kaliava, and 
is chiefly intended for home consumption. It sells at from 
122 to 127 rubles a pud. A better sort, to which more 
attention has been paid in reeling, called homiak, has been 
sold during the last eight years prepared exclusively for export, 
and costs from 180 to 190 rubles a pud. Of late it has been 
also prepared in Khotan. Silk of two threads reeled from 
spook ready for woof is called tokhftl, and brings from 178 to 
212 rubles a pud. A Bukharan variety, tchillya warp, is 
exported through Kazala, but has been brought to Tashkent 
and sold at 240 rubles the pud. Sarnak, the floss or bourre- 
de-soie, when uncleaned, sells at 15 to 20 rubles a pud, and 
when cleaned, sometimes brings as high as 40 rubles. It is 


largely exported to Russia. In Tashkent it takes from 8 to 
9 lbs. of good dried cocoons to produce 1 lb. of reeled silk ; 
while in Samarkand, where the workmen are more skilful, 1 lb. 
of silk can be obtained from 16 lbs. of fresh, or 5 lbs. of dried 
cocoons. Russian silk-winders, with their machinery, have got 
a pound of silk from 14| lbs. of fresh, or 3*9 lbs. of dried 
cocoons. In Europe, 12 lbs. of fresh, or 4 lbs. of dried cocoons 
will give 1 lb. of silk. 

Rude as are its methods, the silk manufacture of Central 
Asia, owing to its importance to the country, is relatively more 
developed than other branches of industry. Its faults are 
connected with the whole structure of the native life, and to 
remedy them entirely in a short time would be beyond the 
power of any government. 

The Uzbek is by nature pre-eminently an agriculturist, 
and all his industries are in their nature domestic, but the 
breeding of silk-worms, and the winding of silk, are two entirely 
different branches, which can with propriety be separated. 
Successful breeding demands an amount of personal, and, so to 
speak, loving care, with great attention to details ; while it is 
essentially a domestic employment, and the smaller the number 
of worms raised, the more care can be given to them. Silk- 
winding, on the contrary, is a mechanical trade demanding 
chiefly good order and discipline. It can therefore be best 
performed in factories, and it will be by founding filatures on 
the spot that the Russians will improve the silk culture in 
Turkistan. Silk culture can be improved in part by teaching 
the natives better methods, but principally by the demand for 
the sorted cocoons of the better class. An increased demand 
for a better article will at once bring out an increased supply. 
From 1867 to 1872, not counting minor attempts, seven im- 
portant filatures were established in Turkistan, but with one 
exception they, for various reasons, were soon closed, in spite 
of the pecuniary assistance which they received from the 
government, without having had any effect upon the native 
silk manufacture. One filature still existed at Hodjj t when 
I was there, belonging to a company of Moscow merchants. It 
had been founded with a capital of 200,000 rubles, on the 
earnest personal solicitation of the chief of General Kaufmann's 
chancery. It was put under the charge of incompetent men, 


and its affairs were greatly neglected owing to the great 
distance from the owners, and lately (November, 1875), a 
notice has appeared announcing its liquidation with a loss of 
four-fifths of the capital. One great reason of the failure of 
these filatures was that Central Asia was considered one of 
those countries where money was sure to be made in any under- 
taking, and persons rashly engaged in silk-spinning, who 
had not the slightest acquaintance with that business, or in 
some cases, indeed, with any other. Another reason was the 
high prices that had to be given for cocoons. The natives of 
Central Asia have a keen commercial instinct, but they are so 
inexperienced in anything out of the ordinary run of life, that 
the slightest additional demand, the starting of any new trade, 
or a call for new articles, increases the price to an absurd 
extent. There was a curious example of this in 1869, when 
for a tannery which had been started, there was a demand 
for the root called taran. The purchases in the bazaars im- 
mediately raised the price double and triple. People living in 
Britch-mulla, and the neighbouring villages where the taran 
grew, hearing of the rise in prices, immediately abandoned all 
their husbandry, ceased cultivating their fields, and devoted 
themselves exclusively to gathering this root, and sending it to 
Tashkent, selling their cattle, and buying horses and asses to 
transport it. When it arrived at Tashkent, however, the im- 
mediate want of it had passed, and the poor people were obliged 
to sell it for almost nothing, and were nearly starved in the 
winter. In the same way, when, during the early days of the 
Eussian occupation of Tashkent and Samarkand, there was 
a speculation in silkworms' eggs, several Italians, Barbieri, 
Adamoli and others, visited Central Asia for the purpose of 
studying silk, and of buying silkworms' eggs for Italy. Barbieri 
succeeded in raising about a thousand pounds of eggs, and the 
price of dried cocoons, immediately rose from thirty to forty 
and fifty rubles a pud, while fresh cocoons were very difficult 
to obtain as people refused to sell them, reserving them for the 
purpose of raising eggs. To meet what was imagined Would 
be the increased demand, so many were prepared, that the 
following spring they were offered in the Tashkent and Hodjent 
bazaars for three rubles a pound without purchasers. Owing 
to the opinions prevalent in Tashkent that the expert of silk- 


worms eggs was destructive to the industrial interests of the 
country, it was forbidden by an Imperial order in the spring oi 
1871. In the same year the government founded a school of 
silk culture with a laboratory. This institution, by investigating 
the different breeds of silkworms, and the causes of their diseases, 
and by experimenting on the food, and teaching more rational 
methods of breeding, cannot fail to be of great use, but it can 
hardly succeed if it attempts to improve merely the methods 
of silk-winding among the natives themselves. The best it 
could do in that direction would be to start a small pattern 
filature, in which native workmen could be educated as masters 
for some larger factory. 

The Sarts, in all their dealings with each other, and most 
commonly in their dealings with the Eussians, use their old 
systems of weights and measures, which vary not only with 
every country but almost with every town. No such thing as 
dry or liquid measure exists, but everything is sold by weight. 
The unit of weight is the batman, or rather perhaps the tcharik, 
usually -g- 1 ^ of a batman. The batman — which was a weight 
known to Russia in the middle ages, and still exists not only in 
the half-Tartar Caucasus and Crimea, but in the purely Russian 
province of Tver, there equal to 36 pounds- varies greatly in 
different places. 1 In Tashkent the batman is about 374 lbs. 
avoirdupois. The tcharik, -^ part of a batman, or rather more 
than 5J lbs., is, disregarding the various subdivisions which are 
of only local interest, divided into 80 paisas, each a little more 
than an ounce. The miskal, which is more especially used in 
Bukhara and Samarkand, is the smallest weight of all, being 
only a quarter of an ounce. In Khokand the tcharik is more 
frequently used than the batman, and varies from 162 to 180 
lbs., being divided into 16 tchaksas, and each of these into 200 
paisas, weighing each f of an ounce. In Hodjent the batman 
is very large, weighing 432 lbs., and is divided into only 12 
tchariks of 36 lbs. each. At Ura-tepe a tcharik is 9 lbs., and a 
batman of 64 tcharilcs is 576 lbs. In several towns on the 
border between Tashkent and Khokand there are still other 

1 A different use of the batman for silk — the large of 9 pounds, and the small 
of 4^ pounds — seems exceptional. Cocoons are sold only by the tcharik, and reeled 
silk only by the skein. The batman is used only in calculating with the workman 
for the quantity he has wound. 


variations. In Samarkand and Bukhara there are two tchariks, 
the large and small, the large weighing 9 lbs., and the small 
half as much. A batman of 64 small tchariks is therefore 28 i 
lbs. The same batman prevails at Jizakh, while at Zamin, 
between that place and Ura-tepe, it is only half as large — 144 
lbs. In Khiva it is still smaller, being only 142 lbs. Here a 
quarter of a batman is called an anser, or ansyr, meaning ten 
syr, an imaginary weight which exists in various combinations 
there as well as Bukhara and Samarkand. 1 The ansyr, as well 
as the batman, was known to Russia in the sixteenth century, 
and was apparently a recognised Russian weight, as it frequently 
appears in the records. It was at first equivalent to If, and 
finally to 1 Russian pound. Going eastward, at Aulie-ata the 
batman is about one-third larger than at Tashkent, and 
when we come to Kashgar we find several systems, including 
Chinese, in use. Here a batman is nearly four times as 
large as at Tashkent, and includes eight galvers, each a? 
large as a Khokandian tcharik. Besides this there are two 
kinds of tchariks, the smaller of 17 lbs., and the larger of 
21 J lbs. 

The batman (a Turkic word, and probably unconnected witli 
the Arabic menn) was originally a dry measure, probably for 
grain, which has now come to be used as a weight. It is only 
in this way that its variations throughout Mussulman Asia can 
be explained. The weight of a measured batman of the staple 
article of each locality, wheat, rice, millet, or whatever it may 
have been, was probably taken as a standard. 

In the bazaars rented from the government, and not always 
then, the use of the legal Russian weights is obligatory. Owing 
to the high price of metal, stones of approximate heaviness are 
usually substituted for the native weights. They are seldom 
correct, and make much cheating possible. Under the native 
rule a religious officer, the reis, whose duty it was to look after 
the morals of the community, verified the weights, but his 
rffice is abolished, and these stone weights are never compared 
with the standard. 

The most common measure of length is the giaz, which is 
equal to seven fists, the last with upturned thumb, making about 

1 The syr is neveT used alone, although we have the expression du-nimsyr, two 
bulf si/r. 

MONEY. 203 

twenty-seven inches. In measuring the glaz-kirbuz, which is 
rarely used for measuring cotton stuffs, each thumb should be 
held up, making about forty-two inches. A kari is twice the 
length of the extended arms, or pretty nearly twelve feet. The 
measure altchin, of twenty-eight inches, of which the Russian 
arshin is a corrupted form, is also in use. For measuring long 
distances the task, or farsang, is used. This is considered to 
be equal to 12,000 paces, or about 6\ English miles. It derives 
its name from the task, or stone, put up to mark the distance. 
Sang is a Persian word for stone, and farsang, the ancient 
parasang, means probably only the Persian stone as distin- 
guished from the measure of some other country. There is only 
one measure for land, which is the tanap, equal to 60 giaz 
square, or about f of an acre. At Kazala and Perofsky, as also 
at Vierny, the Eussian weights and measures have quite crowded 
out those of the natives ; but at Tashkent and Samarkand the 
Russian authorities have thus far made no efforts to enforce the 
use of the Russian system. It is greatly to be regretted that 
they have not taken occasion to introduce here the decimal 
system, which they could easily have done at the beginning, 
a'nd for which it may still be not too late. 

The monetary unit in Central Asia is a small silver coin 
called a tenga, or in Khokand and Tashent tenga khokand, or 
simply khokand, the real value of which is about 16} kopeks, 
or o\d. It bears on one side the name of the sovereign, and 
on the other usually the name of the town or the date of the 
year in which it was struck. There is also a gold coin 5 smaller 
and much thinner, called the tilla, the value of which varies 
with the rate of exchange, and probably with the amount of 
precious metal in the coin. The Khokandian tilla is valued at 
nineteen tengas, and the Bukharan tilla at from twenty-four to 
twenty-eight tengas. In Khiva there are two kinds of tillas, 
the large, worth eighteen tengas, and the small, worth nine. 
The only other coins in use are of brass or iron, called pul, or 
tcheka. Of this they count in Tashkent sixty to a tenga, and 
in Khokand forty. In Bukhara there are from forty-four to 
sixty four puis in a tenga, and in Khiva from thirty-five to 
seventy, according to their abundance. By a decree of the 
Ministry of Finance in 1869 the value of a tenga was fixed at 
twenty kop?ks, although now it is found to be worth, as I have 


said, only 16}. 1 At this rate they have been in frequent use for 
small money, and have been received by the treasury for the 
payment of taxes and other indebtedness. In this way the 
government by the autumn of 1874 had accumulated 3,750,000 
tengas for the purpose of recoining at the value of 750,000 
rubles, while they were really worth only 628,906 J rubles, 
thus losing on the operation more than 121,000 rubles. To be 
sure, as they will be recoined into Russian small money, which 
passes for twice its real value, the government will be able in a 
certain way to make by them, but the operation still remains 
a loss to the treasury, for it could have made this much more 
by having previously ascertained the actual value of the coin, 
and taken it at that value. At present Russian money passes 
freely in Tashkent, and last year appeared to be at one per cent, 
premium in Khokand, a circumstance which greatly gladdened 
the hearts of the administrators, but which was entirely fictitious 
owing to the fictitious value given to the tenga. 

At the time of my visit commercial operations were very 
much impeded by the absence of any banking facilities, not even 
a private bank being in existence, nor was it easy to procure a 
bill of exchange, and money had to be sent to and from Russia 
by post. This has now been remedied by the extension of 
the telegraph to Tashkent, and by the opening there in 1875 of 
a branch of the Imperial Bank. 

When Tashkent was occupied by the Russians, and it became 
necessary to seek for sources of revenue, it was resolved to 
maintain for a while the native taxes, one of the most impor- 
tant of which was the zekat, or tax on trade. Originally by 
Mussulman law the zekat was a tax obligatory on all believers, 
for the support of the poor, and for carrying on of all wars against 
the infidels, and was levied on gold, silver, dates, oxen and 
sheep. In modern times this came to be chiefly a tax on cara- 
vans or commercial transactions, and in most countries of Cen- 
tral Asia it is for Mussulmans, one fortieth part or 2-| per cent. 

1 According to one analysis by the Mining Department at St. Petersburg the 
Bukharan til I a is 44^ proof, and contains 1 zolotnik 5\ dolia (45098 grammes) 
of pure gold ; the Khokandian tilla is 82f proof, and contains 77? dolia (3*4454 
grammes) of pure gold; the Bukharan tenga is of 59 proof, and contains 44 dolia 
(1-9536 grammes) of pure silver ; and the Khokandian tenga is of 87^ proof, and 
contains 60 dolias (2'664 grammes) of pure silver. There is evidently some error 
with regard to the Bukharan tmga\ A typical coin could not have been choasii. 


Before the recent commercial treaties with Russia Christians were 
taxed double that amount on every caravan. Besides the 
ordinary or external zekat, the Eussian administration invented 
an internal zekat, which is a tax on the trading capital, and is 
collected once a year. Until 1874 it existed in all parts of the 
district of Syr Darya with the exception of Kazala and Perofsky, 
which were subject to the Russian commercial code, and in the 
district of Zarafshan. The internal zekat was imposed only on 
the native merchants and not on the Russians, and was e&timated 
according to the amount of capital declared by the merchant on 
the day of assessment, or by the valuation of goods which he had 
in his possession. This latter was the more usual way. The 
merchant then received a certificate which gave him the right 
of trading for one year upon that capital. It sometimes happened 
that articles on which he had paid zekat for one year, and 
had not been able to dispose of in the course of that year, were 
assessed again the ensuing year, so that the same article was 
taxed two, three or four times. The external zekat is in the 
nature of a customs duty, and was imposed upon all goods 
entering or leaving the limits of the district, whether Russian 
or native, but there was a difference between the zekat im- 
posed upon Russian subjects, no matter what their origin, and 
that imposed upon the subjects of foreign states. Foreigners 
were obliged to pay zekat amounting to 2^ per cent., or one 
fortieth part of the value of goods, on every importation or 
exportation made. Russian subjects, on the contrary, paid 2£ 
per cent, on the value of an importation or exportation which 
allowed them to traffic freely for one year on that amount of 
capital. Thus, for instance, if a merchant had imported goods 
from Russia to the amount of 10,000 rubles, he would pay a 
tax of 250 rubles and would obtain a certificate which would 
enable him to trade with this 10,000 worth for a whole year, 
no matter how many timt s the capital was turned over in the 
meantime. If, for example, he were sending a caravan to 
Russia, he would hardly be able to receive the returning caravan 
within the year, and at most would turn his capital over but 
once. If, however, he were trading with Khokand, he might 
turn it over four or five times, but would pay only one zekat. 
It will easily be seen that the system was productive of many 
difficulties and afforded considerable opportunity for deception. 


A ccmmission was therefore appointed to study the subjectj 
and it was finally decided entirely to abolish the zekat, and to 
introduce the Russian code of taxes and duties on trade with all 
its complicated system of guilds, tickets and licenses. Certain 
modifications were made by the Ministry of Finance, allowing 
the trade in articles of domestic or household manufacture 
without a tax, and the system went into force on January 1 
C13), 1875. for a trial of four years. Objections to the in- 
troduction of this system were made by Russians in the interest 
of their trade, on the ground that by placing the natives on an 
equality with them, and by enabling the larger merchants to 
trade with fewer taxes than before, the whole trade of Central 
Asia would fall into native hands and the Russians would be 
crowded out of the market. There was a certain foundation 
for this fear, for, with the exception of one or two firms, all the 
solid houses trading in Tashkent are either natives or Tartars. 
At first there was some dissatisfaction among the natives, as 
pains had not been taken to translate the law, and even had 
it been translated it would have been difficult for them to 
understand its complicated provisions. As this system presses 
much more hardly on small traders than on large, the great 
native merchants found themselves by the payment of the first 
guild tax of 265 rubles a year in a much better position than 
before, and able to trade freely in all parts of the empire. 
Even the taxes on the smaller merchants, though high, were 
not so oppressive as they at first seemed, because under the 
zekat system the traders were in the habit of concealing a 
great part of their capital. Before the tax collector came 
round, they removed from their shops the greater part of their 
goods. The collector, when dissatisfied, said : ' This is too 
little, I shall charge you so much,' and the sum was usually 
paid without a murmur, as it was even then less than the 
amount really due. The new system brought in during 
January 1875, when most of the tickets and licences had to 
be taken out, 157,565 rubles, or 90,000 more than had been 
obtained in previous years from the Russian traders and from 
the natives in those districts where this law had been applied. 

As under the new system the external zekat is also abolished, 
and as the customs frontier of Orenburg and Southern Siberia 
waff abrogated in 1868-9, foreign good? can now enter the 


Central Asiatic provinces duty free. Thus, if the letter of the 
commercial treaties with the neighbouring states be adhered to, 
it will leave the Russians in the position of admitting all goods 
free and still of paying the old 2-J per cent, duty to their 
neighbours. It must not be supposed, however, that all goods 
are allowed to pass the frontier ; for in 1869 the Governor 
General issued an order keeping out nearly all articles of 
European manufacture, and — in order to benefit the Kiakhta 
merchants — tea introduced by the way of India. In addition to 
this the order which I mentioned on page 48 was given to keep 
European merchants from entering the country. 

Little more than this has been done by the Russians for the 
benefit of trade. Various manufactories, some of which I have 
already mentioned, have been started, but with the exception 
of the distilleries, they have nearly all failed. These distilleries 
seem to be doing a prosperous business and afford a considerable 
article of the revenue derived from the country. Most of the 
Russian merchants who ventured into the Central Asiatic trade, 
ruined or greatly crippled themselves, — Khludof and Pervushin, 
for instance, — and the recent failure of the silk filature at 
Hodjent, which I mentioned above, will, probably, for some time 
bring commercial enterprises in Turkistan into complete dis- 

There is one thing more, the fair. 

In one of the happiest sketches of the Russian satirist 
iStchedrin, there is the characterisation of a Tashkentian. The 
type to which he gives the name ' Tashkentian,' is a civiliser, 
an enlightener — ' an enlightener in general, in every place 
and in every way, and an enlightener too, free from science, 
but not confused by that, for science in his opinion was created 
not for the spread, but for the hindrance of enlightenment. A 
scientific man first demands alphabets, then syllables, the foui 
rules of arithmetic, multiplication tables, &c. The Tashkentian 
sees in all that nothing but chicanery, and says up and down 
that to stop over similar trifles is to stumble and to waste 
golden time.' One of his characters develops the advantages 
of the Russian telega as a means of civilising the Kirghiz. 
'Don't interrupt me, mon cher, because I must express my 
idea fully. Thus, as I said before, the original mode of loco- 
motion was on foot, but as man began to conquer nature and 


tame animals, the means of locomotion became moie compli- 
cated, and instead of confining himself to pedestrianism, man 
now begins to ride on four-footed animals. Thus arises a 
notion of property, which, on the basis of the rule omnia mea 
mecum porto, is placed on the same animal with the rider. 
This is already a step in advance, but you will agree with me 
a very limited step. (I nodded and winked a little, as though 
I wished to say, Oh, comme je vous comprends, mon general !) 
The property is insignificant, the means of transport are also 
insignificant ; there is the key for explaining the existence of 
pastoral and nomadic nations. They wander about, move from 
one place to another, and never can settle in one place — enfin 
tout s'explique ! At last appears the telega, that uncomfortable 
and jolting equipage ; but see what a revolution it produces \ 
By its very uncomfortableness it compels its possessor to avoid 
superfluous movement, and in this way fixes him to the land. 
Thus fixed, he begins to get an idea of manure. Seeing the 
gradual accumulation of this fertilising material, the simple 
shepherd asks himself, what is manure ? For the first time he 
begins to think about it, for the first time the idea comes to 
him, that manure, like everything else in nature, does not 
exist without a purpose. He begins to appreciate manure, he 
sees in it ses penates et ses lares. He constructs his dwelling 
near it, and imperceptibly to himself be enters into the period 
of settled life (Oh, comme je vous comprends, comme je vous 
comprends, mon general!) Do you understand ? Man invents 
a telega, and this simple fact, which almost every day passes 
unnoticed before our eyes, is quite sufficient for him to obtain 
elementary ideas of manure, and to leave for ever the habits of 
the nomads. But more than this, having a telega, he under- 
stands the basis of a sound civilisation {Oh comme je vous 
comprends!) Don't you see what a radical reform we at once 
make in the life of these unhappy vagabonds, risking nothing, 
even bringing nothing with us except a simple Russian telega ! 
Aussi, je leur en donnerai . . . . du telegue ! Ah!'' 

It must have been a man of this kind that projected the 
Tashkent fair. 

Considering the part which fairs have played in the history 
of Russian commerce, it* was perhaps natural for persons un- 
accustomed to mercantile life to imagine that trade could not 


possibly be carried on without them, and that to start a fair 
meant to create trade. It was forgotten that trade seeks its 
own channels, and cannot be arbitrarily increased at the com- 
mand of the authorities. It was forgotten too that commerce 
is very delicate and susceptible, and cannot be interfered with 
with impunity. Nevertheless plausible arguments full of fine 
phrases were made to the Governor-General, a petition was 
drawn up, to which the signatures of the merchants were easily 
obtained — for when will Kussian merchants refuse to sign a 
petition, or an address brought to them by an officer of the 
government ? — and the authorities resolved on the establishment 
of a fair, and a commission was appointed in 1870 to study the 
details, and prepare the organisation. In the order appointing 
this commission the reasons are thus stated : ' The exchange of 
the manufactures from the internal provinces of the Empire 
for the raw material (cotton and silk) of the Asiatic countries 
has up to this time been chiefly carried on at two fairs : those 
of Irbit and Nizhni Novgorod. Closer relations between con- 
sumers and producers, and the consequent permanency of price 
and of commercial relations, would doubtless be greatly facili- 
tated by bringing the centre of exchange nearer to the Central 
Asiatic markets.' 

It is curious that at the first session of the Commission the 
merchants who had just petitioned for the fair unanimously 
declared that the fair of Irbit, the remoteness of which had 
been a cause of complaint, had not the slightest influence on 
the trade of Central Asia, while the fair of Nizhni Novgorod 
had so great an influence that it was useless to found a fair at 
Tashkent, as the prices there would inevitably be governed by 
those at Nizhni. The views of the non-commercial members 
prevailed, and the commission established two fairs, one in 
spring and the other in autumn, and ordered the erection of 
suitable buildings. The site chosen for the fair was at about 
two miles south-east of the Russian town, and fully five miles 
from the bazaar of the native town. This place was chosen in 
oider to draw native commerce away from the native influences 
which prevailed in the old town, to subject it to close govern- 
mental supervision, and to render it amenable to governmental 
control. 1 

1 See also page 175. 
VOL. I. P 


Buildings were erected on a large scale and at great expense. 
There were offices for the administration, large caravanserais, 
and many rows of shops. The projectors intended to transfer 
the entire wholesa 1 e trade of the region to this locality. The 
work was pushed ^u ar, fast as possible, although the troops, the 
real sinews of Russian strength in Asia, were suffering from the 
want of suitable barracks. Yet in spite of all their efforts, when 
the fair was opened in October 1870, it was found that, with the 
exception of the Russian merchants, no persons came to buy or 
to sell, and the natives could not be persuaded to leave their shops 
and establish new ones in the bazaar, even though they were 
offered accommodation free of rent. Consequently it was neces- 
sary to issue an order that during the whole duration of the 
fair, two months in the year, all the native merchants, with the 
exception of the sellers of provisions, should close their shops at 
the old bazaar, and remove their trade to the shops of the fair. 
Many traders, however, sooner than transport their goods such 
a long distance, resolved to abandon commerce entirely for the 
duration of the fair, or carried it on secretly in their houses. 
In consequence of this it was proposed to impose fines on 
persons who did not appear, and, I am told, they were even 
hunted up and driver, to the fair by Cossacks. These measures 
were, however, found to be useless, and the Russian merchants, 
who sold goods to the natives on credit and received weekly or 
monthly payments from them, were unable to collect their ac- 
counts, and petitioned the government to allow the natives to 
trade as before in the old town, as otherwise they would them- 
selves be ruined. The Russian merchants also themselves found 
it disagreeable to be compelled to keep warehouses for their 
goods at the fair as well as in their private establishments. 
The buildings are therefore empty, and, according to good in- 
formation, the fair, while not officially closed, has in reality 
ceased to exist. The whole enterprise has therefore been a 
complete failure, and up to the end of 1873 had cost the gov- 
ernment 377,247 rubles ; of this sum 29,631 rubles were 
spent in the purchase of private buildings and land, 1 45,676 
rubles in the erection of the fair buildings, 56,863 rubles in 
salaries and administration, and 15,726 rubles in the expenses 
of collecting the revenue of the fair, and the remainder, about 
30,000 rubles, for various expenses. The receipts of the fair 



to cover these expenses were 32,395 rubles. The only advan- 
tages known to have been derived from it were the opening 
breakfasts and dinners, the cost of which was defrayed by a sub- 
scription extorted from the merchants. 

The business done at these fairs is thus stated in the official 
reports in rubles : 

' S70 Autumn fair 

1871 Spring „ 
„ Autumn „ 

1872 -„ „ ' 


Carried away 

Total dealings by brokers 
6,225.888-98.1 680,323 
3,913,702 75 
6,788,379- . 
3,388,325-21 252,29294 

not stated 

Brought Carried away Transit trade Brokers' sales Total 

1873 Spring 735,985-72 907,827-27 169,213- 472,198-90 2,285,24489 

„ Autumn 1,260,297-32 860,169-52 131,628'20 190,69235 2,442,787-39 

I quote these figures to show the minuteness with which the 
details of the fair have been studied, even to the fractions of a 
kopek, and at the same time as an example of the difficulty of 
using statistics which have been made to order. The fair 
grounds are not like a country where the exports and the imports 
are different. Nothing can be carried away from the fair but 
what has at some time been brought there, and much is brought 
and taken away without being sold ; while the same goods are 
sometimes brought several times, goods being taken from the 
fair to the native town, then brought to the JRussian quarter and 
entered again at the fair. It is only the amount of actual sales 
which shows the dealings of a fair. Here the amounts for goods 
brought in are added to the amounts for goods taken away to 
make the total dealings ; and in 1872 the amount of the transit 
trade, 159,889*34, is added to both sides, so that it appears twice 
in the total ; while in 1873 not only the transit trade but the 
sales by brokers are added, the same transaction thus appear- 
ing in three different ways. Besides this the figures are made 
up in pari from estimates, and in some cases, from fear lest 
the amount should not be large enough, 20 per cent, has been 
added to it. Sometimes transactions are included which have 
nothing to do with the fair, as for instance the cattle trade. 
Cattle are brought to Tashkent in large numbers on every 
bazaar day, twice a week, and the numbers driven and sold 

1 This fair lasted two months instead of one. 

2 I have been unable to obtain the returns for the spring fair of 1872, 

p 2 


during the months of the fair are no greater than at any othei 
time ; in fact, the figures are intended rather to show the 
total trade of Tashkent during the months in which the fair is 
held ; for it is so arranged that all imports and exports have to 
pass through the office of the committee of the fair, and I find 
by comparison that these amounts are not proportionately larger 
than those of the other months. The only positive data are the 
amounts of sales by brokers, although these by no means cover 
the total actual sales. The fair committee tried to establish 
the rule that nothing should be sold at the fair except by brokers 
licensed by the government, and this was called a measure for 
encouraging trade ! 

The causes of the failure of the fair are easily intelligible. 
Tashkent is not a manufacturing nor an agricultural centre, 
nor is it really a trade centre; it lies on the road from Khokand 
to Orenburg and Troitzk, and that is all. The trade of Tash- 
kent with Bukhara and the Zarafshan valley is very insignifi- 
cant, as that trade follows the old route direct across the steppe 
from Bukhara to Kazala. Articles of prime necessity — such as 
sugar and candles — are sometimes cheaper in Samarkand than 
Tashkent, being imported too through Bukhara, where they 
have to pay duties. Tashkent is a halting place for the Khokand 
trade, simply because, as the seat of government, the chief 
merchants find it convenient to live there, and to store the 
goods forwarded to them until they have occasion to send them 
on. It is not a place where great purchases are made. Were 
the capital transferred to Tchimkent, no one would ascribe any 
commercial importance to Tashkent. 

The transit trade through Tashkent with Khokand in 1872 
was 1,162,738 rubles, and with Bukhara 22,669 rubles. In 
the year 1871, the only one for which we have exact, detailed 
statistical returns, the imports into Tashkent from all parts of 
Russia and from the independent Khanates were 8,992,320 
rubles, the exports 6,112,495, making a total of 15,104,815 
rubles; of this 4,094,291 was with Khokand, and only 337,854 
with Bukhara. In 1873 the trade of Tashkent is stated to 
have been: Imports, 10,938,159; exports, 6,299,182; total, 
17,237,341 ; transit, 954,289. 

Some idea of the trade of Tashkent may be formed from 
the transportation statistics for 1872 and 1873. 





1872 Arrived . 

. 55,658 



,, Departed 

. 26,792 



1873 Arrived . 

. 46,294;* 



„ Departed 

. 36,208 



The average load of a camel is 576 lbs. ; that of a horse 
288 lbs., and that of a cart 990 lbs. From this we see that 
there were brought to Tashkent in 1872 40,713,120 lbs. of 
merchandise, and there left it 16,628,814 lbs., while in 1873 
there were brought 29,845,388 lbs. and taken away 22,525,848 
lbs. 1 

It is very difficult to arrive at the exact figures of Central 
Asiatic trade. The Orenburg-Siberia frontier customs line 
was abolished in 1868, and the collection of statistics has 
consequently ceased. The only materials which exist for deter- 
mining the amount of trade consist in the declarations of the 
Russian and the native merchants, of the kind, quantity, and 
value of the wares which have been imported or exported by them, 
as delivered to the economical bureaux of the districts for 
the payment of duty or zekat on such goods, and of the zekat re- 
ceipts, which show the amount of duty received. These receipts, 
which are chiefly written in the Turki language, have enabled 
the agent of the Ministry of Finance to publish ' materials for 
the statistics of the Asiatic trade.' It is a matter of consider- 
able difficulty, however, to collect such data with any pretence 
to accuracy, as the zekat system did not exist in all parts of the 
country, and the full amount of the trade is not indicated there, 
the zekat receipt for the goods brought by caravan allowing 
the merchant to trade on the capital represented by those 
goods for a whole year without paying other zekat, and conse- 
quently, where it was possible to turn over the capital more 
than once a year, the full amount of the transactions is not 
shown. • So far as it is possible to ascertain, making allowances 
for the places where the full returns are not given, the imports 
into the district of the Syr Darya from all quarters in the year 
1872 amounted to 13,400,000 rubles, and the exports for the 
same time amounted to 9,185,000 rubles, making a total of 
22,585,000. Of this, however, at least 1 0,000,000 rubles must be 

1 These figures are too large. A camel- load, as a standard of weight, i6 16 
puds or 576 lbs. ; the load carried by a camel— especially in long distances — is 
usually far smaller. 


deducted for trade with the Kirghiz Steppe, leaving 12,585,000 
rubles as the actual trade with the Khanates. But this does 
not include the direct trade between Khiva and the Caspian 
littoral, which is small, and that between Kashgar and Vierny, 
of which I shall speak further on. Allowing for the trade on 
these two routes the highest estimates, we would have for the 
present trade with Central Asia proper, both exports and 
imports, the total of about fifteen million rubles (2,000,000^.). 
By the customs returns on the frontier in 1867, we have 
the following : 

Exports to Tashkent (including Khokand) . 5,478,000 rubles 

„ Bukhara 4,910,000 „ 

„ Khiva 487,000 „ 

Making a total of 10,876,000 

The imports were as follows : — 

Prom Tashkent 868,000 rubles 

„ Bukhara 6,215,000 „ 

„ Khiva 1,421,000 „ 

Making a total of 8,504,000 

The total trade consequently amounted to 19,379,000 
rubles (2,650,000L). It would seem therefore that the trade 
with Central Asia has diminished rather than increased since the 
year 1867, unless the figures for that year were exaggerated. 

The trade of Bukhara through Kazala was in the year from 
September 1868 to September 1869, 4,193,000 rubles imports 
and 1,793,000 rubles exports, and through Tashkent in 1872, 
8,643 rubles imports and 14,000 rubles exports. The trade of 
1869 was, however, much larger than usual, as can be seeu 
from the amount of zekat received, which in 1869 was 114,000 
rubles ; in 1870, 36,000 rubles ; in 1871, 33,000 rubles; in 1872, 
24,000 rubles. The probable trade with Kazala therefore in 1872 
was not more than one third of what it was in 1869 ; but, counting 
it at one half, we would have the total trade with Bukhara in 
1872, — inclusive of both exports and imports, — as not more than 
3.000,000 rubles. In 1869 the total trade with Bukhara was 
more than 11,000,000. We cannot ascribe this falling off in 
the trade to the separation of the Zarafshan district from Buk- 
hara, for we find that the whole trade of the Zarafshan district, 
as represented at Samarkand for 1872, was only 2,000,000 
rubles. It is of course possible that the data from which tlu^e 


statistics are made are not full, and it is possicie that the dis- 
turbance in the Kirghiz Steppe, and the crisis in the cotton 
trade, had considerable influence on the commerce with Bukhara, 
but in any event the result is not favourable. 

For the trade of Khokand the statistics are tolerably full, 
and we find that in 1872 the imports from that country 
amounted to 2,189,836 rubles, and the exports to 1,273,520 
rubles. The chief articles of import from Khokand are cotton 
and silk, and in much smaller quantities fresh and dried fruit, 
coarse native half-silk and half-cotton materials, and native 
clothes. The exports are chiefly Russian prints, cotton yarn, 
cloth, and Russian shawls and handkerchiefs, which are used 
as girdles. 

The chief statistics for the present trade with Khiva are 
those taken in Kazala. From September 1868 to September 
1869 the exports from Russia to Khiva were 112,045 rubles, 
and the imports from Khiva 294,887 rubles. The exports to 
Khiva in that year were entirely confined to the winter months 
from January to April. Most of the Khivan trade passes 
through Kazala, although a small portion of it goes through 
the Caspian Steppes. 

As to the special articles of import, those of the greatest 
importance are cotton and silk ; cotton having been imported 
across the Orenburg and Siberia customs line, in 1863, to the 
amount of 2,933,248 rubles; and in 1864, to the amount of 
6,583,229 rubles; in 1865, 3,394,267 rubles; in 1866, 4,326,145 
rubles; in 1867, 5,513,422 rubles: all of course coming from 
Tashkent, Khokand, Bukhara and Khiva. In 1872 there was 
imported from Khokand, in transit through Tashkent, cotton to 
the amount of 208,568 rubles. From Tashkent there was sent 
to other parts of Russia, as well as to other towns of the 
Turkistan district, 1,953,860 rubles' worth. In 1872, from 
Tashkent, the district of Kurama and from Samarkand, there 
was only 785,089 rubles' worth exported. In 1869 the cotton 
imported from Kazala amounted to 1,943,860 rubles, and from 
Khiva 60,002 rubles. If we take the highest figures of the 
export from Tashkent, the total amount of cotton imported 
into Russia during 1872 would come to only 3,606,356 rubles 
(500,000^.), a considerable falling off from former years. 

The silk trade, which began to increase after the occupation 


of the country by the Russians, makes rather a better show. 
In 1867 it amounted to 75,643 rubles; in 18G9 to 1,181,967 
rubles. In 1872 there was exported, in transit through Tashkent, 
silk to the amount of 200,360 rubles. In 1871 there was 
transported from Tashkent to Russia 47 1,188 rubles' worth. In 
1872 from Tashkent, Kazala, and Hodjent, it amounted to 762,46* 
rubles. The import of silk from Kazala in 1869 came to 
1,095,667 rubles; from Khiva 86,300 rubles. Should we take 
the highest figure, which would be unfair, as the import of silk 
from Bukhara in 1872 was by no means equal to that in 1869, 
we should have the total of the silk trade 2,134,795 rubles 

Fully one half of the silk sent to Russia comes from 
Bukhara, and nearly all the other half comes from Khokand, 
but a very slight quantity coming from the Russian provinces. 
Thus in 1871 there was brought to Tashkent from Khokand 
929,537 rubles' worth ; from the cities of the Syr Darya, a 
province, only 70,523 rubles' worth. The trade in horse-hair, 
which in 1872 amounted to only 10,113 rubles, could probably 
be easily increased. 

The chief articles sent from Russia to Central Asia are 
prints and cotton goods. Of these there were sent, in 1869, 
from Russia to Tashkent, 3,857,207 rubles' worth ; to Bukhara 
2,810,060 rubles' worth ; and to Khiva 284,522 rubles' worth ; 
the total amounting to 6,951,789 rubles (952,000/.). Of such 
goods there were sent to Tashkent in 1872 4,470,723 rubles' 
worth; to Bukhara, in 1872, 1,054,717 rubles' worth; to 
Khokand, in 1869, 240,630 rubles' worth ; to Khiva, in 1869, 
55,829 rubles' worth: the total being 5,821,902 rubles 
(800,000/.). These figures will also show a falling off in the 
Central Asiatic trade, although the market is reserved almost 
exclusively to the Russians, very few English goods getting 
farther than Bukhara. Tea is also sent in large quantities, the 
amount imported into Turkistan in 1872 being 1,048,508 
rubles, of which but a very small quantity (about 100,000 
rubles) came from China through Siberia, the rest being sent 
from Moscow. During the last half of 1868, the whole of 
1869. and the first half of 1870, there were 635,273 lbs. of tea 
imported. Of this 174,772 lbs. were sent to Khokand, while 
18,533 lbs. were brought back from that country, not hein" 


saleable. In 1871 141,597 lbs. were sent to Khokand, and in 
1872 only 21,970 rubles' worth. In general the tea trade with 
the Khanates is not flourishing, as green tea in very large 
quantities is imported from India by way of Bukhara. Its 
passage through Turkistan is prohibited, but, nevertheless, 
most of that used in Khokand passes through Russian territory 
close to Samarkand by what is called the ' robbers' road.' 
Much also is smuggled for sale in the country. For instance, 
in the Zarafshan district no one buys Russian tea except the 
Russians, and in 1872 but 11,900 lbs. of tea were imported 
from Bukhara through the Custom House (the prohibition not 
being then applied to this region), which for over 200,000 
inhabitants is less than half-a-pound a year each. Now tea is 
universally drunk, and the consumption of each man is much 
nearer half-a-pound a month. Fully 500,000 lbs. of tea must 
have been smuggled. The import of sugar in 1872 was only 
171,700 rubles. 

Very exaggerated notions have been held with regard to 
the amount of trade to be derived from Kashgar. The country, 
however, is poor, the population scanty, and there is little demand 
for foreign goods, and there are almost no native goods that can 
be exported with advantage, the chief article of export being 
daba, a coarse kind of native cotton goods, which is sold to the 
Kirghiz, who pay in sheep, at the rate of a sheep for a piece 
of daba. As the sheep is worth 3 rubles, and the daba 40 to 
50 kopeks, Kashgar gains by the traffic. The trade with Russia 
is principally carried on by the roads from Vierny, Tokmak, and 
Naryn to Kashgar, though there is some trade also by the routes 
of Aksu and Karakol, and through Khokand. The only statistical 
materials of this trade are those which have been kept at the 
fort of Naryn. In December 1868, and the whole of the year 
1869, the total trade of Kashgar with Russia, passing through 
Naryn Fort, both exports and imports, amounted to 274,665 
rubles (37,628/.). In 1870 the imports from Kashgar were 
184,182 rubles, and the exports to that country 39,843, making 
a total of 224,025 rubles (30,688/.). In 1871 the imports from 
Kashgar amounted to 473,338 rubles, and the exports to 
Kashgar 140,372 rubles, in all 604,710 rubles (82,837/.). In 
1872, up to the first of May, the imports from Kashgar 
amounted to 50,539 rubles, and the exports to 53,564 rubles, 


making together 104,103 rubles (14,26()£.,. These figures are 
small, because most of the trade is in the latter months of the 
year. Mr.' Kolesnikoff, who was the commercial agent of the 
Russian Embassy to Kashgar in 1872, estimates the total exports 
from Kashgar to Russia from 1st of June 1871 to 1st of May 
1872 as 1,100,000 rubles (150,685Z.), including those sent via 
Khokand. During 1874, according to published returns, there 
were imported from Kashgar, through the Naryn pass, about 
1,662,000 lbs. of merchandise, including 721,729 pieces of 
daba worth about 324,000 rubles. During the same year 
there were exported to Kashgar 1,678,000 lbs., and 85,382 
sheep worth, at 3 rubles each, about 256,000 rubles. In 1875, 
up to the 22nd of July, the imports were 1,111,000 lbs., in- 
cluding 881,560 pieces of daba worth about 396,000 rubles, 
and the exports were 402,000 lbs. of goods, and 54,049 sheep 
worth about 162,000 rubles. 

To a country separated so far from the rest of the world, not 
by water, but by arid wastes, the question of trade routes and of 
the means of transportation becomes of prime commercial im- 
portance. Goods are chiefly transported in Central Asia in pack- 
trains, or on the arbas, or two-wheeled carts of the country. 
This last method is, however, principally employed in the south 
between neighbouring towns, as between Bukhara and Samar- 
kand, and Hodjent and Tashkent, while for longer routes trans- 
portation by camels becomes a necessity. The use of carts has 
greatly increased smce the Russian occupation and the con- 
struction of passable roads. As the method of harnessing is 
very burdensome to the horses, the maximum load of a cart is 
not more than 2 camel-loads, or 32 puds (1,152 lbs.), but the 
ordinary load is only a camel-load and a half, or 24 puds (864 
lbs.). The ordinary load of a horse is 8 puds (288 lbs.), and 
of an ass half that amount. These animals are chiefly used for 
rocky and mountainous roads, where hard hoofs are necessary, 
as on the short road over the mountains from Tashkent to 

By far the most common and most useful beast of burden is 
the camel, which carries ordinarily 16 puds (576 lbs.), and which 
can travel over almost any soil, can find his pasture as he goes, 
and, except in cold weather, does not need the care which must 


be bestowed on a horse. As liis gait is twice as slow as the 
horse, the latter, though carrying only half as much, can with 
advantage be used for short distances. The fact, however, that 
a camel kneels down to his load renders it much easier to load 
and unload him at the halts, thus relieving the attendants of 
much labour. In unloading the camel the ropes or straps con- 
necting the two bales which make up the load are untied, the 
bales remain standing on the ground, and the camel walks away 
from them. In loading he kneels down between them, and they 
are fastened on with a very small expenditure of manual labour. 
Attempts have been made to use camels harnessed to a cart, it 
being found in this way that they can carry from 50 to 60 puds 
(1,800 to 2,100 lbs.). 

The chief trade route to Bukhara is from Orenburg through 
Kazala, varying according to the road chosen, w T hether directly 
across the steppe, or by way of Orsk, from 1,060 to 1,160 miles 
in length, and requiring about 47 days. The caravans cross the 
Syr Darya at Kazala, or a short distance above, on the Eussian 
ferries, or on the reed bridges made by the Kirghiz. Freight 
cost formerly only from twelve to fifteen rubles per camel, but 
owing to the rise of prices cannot now be had for less than 
twenty-one rubles. The Bukharan caravans occasionally, but of 
late years less frequently, go to Troitsk, about 1,000 miles, 
needing 52 days. As this route falls in with the wanderings of 
the Kirghiz, from whom the camels are hired, freight is often 
half less than that to Orenburg. The road from Bukhara to 
Samarkand, 150 miles, is very much frequented, but very little 
of the trade goes farther on to Tashkent, about 340 miles in all. 
A small amount of trade with Siberia goes over another road 
from Bukhara, which crosses the Syr Darya near Turkistan. 
The total cost of a pud of goods from Moscow to Bukhara 
would be about 2*75 rubles (7s. Id.), or 2±d. per pound. 

For the Khokandian trade there are two routes from Tash- 
kent, one, as I have said, directly over the mountains through 
Telau, 140 miles, occupying five or six days, and the other, which 
is possible for carts, by the way of Hodjent, being over 200 
miles, and taking eight or ten days. 

Formerly nearly all caravans from Tashkent went to Petro- 
pavlovsk and Troitsk. The greater part of them now go directly 
to Orenburg, following in general the post road, a distance of 


1,300 miles, or 60 days. From Tashkent to Orenburg freight 
costs from 14 to 25 rubles per camel, or 90 kopeks to 1*69 rubles 
prr pud, return freight being dearer. The route from Tashkent 
to Petropavlovsk, after passing through Tchimkent, skirts the 
northern slope of the Kara-tau to Suzak, and then goes straight 
through the Bek-pak-dala Steppe to Akmolinsk and Petro- 
pavlovsk, about 1,200 miles. Propositions have been made to 
establish postal communication on this road. Freight is now 
from 90 kopeks to 2 rubles per pud, or from 14 to 32 rubles a 
camel. The route from Troitsk to Tashkent requires about 39 
days, and is considered to be about 1 ,200 miles. Freight is from 
11 to 17 rubles per camel, or 20 kopeks to 1*30 rubles per pud. 

The Kashgar trade usually follows the road through the 
Naryn pass to Tokmak and Vierny, but a certain portion of it 
goes over the Terek-davan and through Khokand, the distance 
from Kashgar to Khokand being estimated at over 300 miles, 
requiring from 12 to 20 days for a caravan. 

The trade with Khiva, when it flourished, went by three 
roads ; from Orenburg through Kazala and Irkibai to Khiva, 
54 or 55 days' journey of 1,140 to 1,230 miles ; or from Orenburg 
through the Emba Post, and skirting the west shore of the Aral 
Sea, 43 days and some 880 miles ; or from the Caspian through 
Mangyshlak, directly across the Ust-urt — a difficult road, on 
account of the scarcity of water, and almost unused since 1855. 
The price of freight from Orenburg to Khiva is about 16 rubles 
a camel, or 1 ruble per pud. Since the Khivan expedition 
Colonel Olukhofsky, who seems greatly impressed with the 
possibilities of trade with Khiva, has devoted his energies to 
establishing a caravan route and regular commerce between 
Krasnovodsk on the Caspian and Khiva. One of his caravans, 
during the summer of 1875, went from Krasnovodsk to Khiva 
by the shortest road in seventeen days, but as there were wells 
only at distances of two or three days' journey, it is not the 
most advantageous. Taking advantage of specially favourable 
circumstances, he paid a freight of ten rubles for every 12 J 
puds of merchandise. The caravan also made the return 
journey to Krasnovodsk in seventeen days. In the autumn of 
1875 another of Col. Glukhofsky's caravans was pillaged by 
the Turkomans. 

From Khiva to Bukhara the usual route is to ascend the 


Amu Darya in boats as far as Ustyk, and then, loading on 
camels, to proceed to Bukhara through Kara-Kol, some 350 
miles, or a journey of about 17 days. The current of the Amu 
is so strong that the return journey is much shorter. 

The road from Bukhara to Balkh, by the way of Karshi, is 
estimated at about 300 miles, and demands 1 3 days. To Kabul 
is 350 miles more, needing another 13 days. Should the caravans 
go direct to Kabul through Khulum, without touching Balkh, 
the journey could be accomplished in 20 days. The freight from 
Khulum to Bukhara is 25 to 30 tengas for a camel load of 12 
puds (432 lbs. 1 ), and 50 to' 60 tengas for a camel load of 16 puds 
(576 lbs.), while from Bukhara to Khulum it is much dearer 
From Khulum to Kabul freights are from 25 to 40 rupees pe r 
camel load of 12 puds. From Kabul to Peshawur caravans 
go in 12 days, a freight of from 15 to 20 rupees being charged 
for a camel load of 12 puds. This makes the total cost of 
freight of a camel load of 432 lbs. from Bukhara to Peshawur 
about 34*49 rubles or A.I. 14s. 7d., without including the 
customs duties or transit dues, or the great exactions of the 
Amir of Kabul, — nearly the same as from Moscow to Bukhara. 

From Bukhara to Herat, through Maimena, is a journey of 
about 600 miles, which can be accomplished in 25 days ; a came 
load paying about 36 Bukharan tengas. From Bukhara to Merv 
is a journey of 11 days ; and to Mashad of some 10 days more. 
The price of freight for the whole distance is about 3 Bukharan 
tillas per camel load. 

The commerce of Central Asia, which passes through 
Petropavlovsk, goes to Ekaterinburg and Perm, and so down 
the Kama to Nizhni Novgorod ; that through Troitsk takes 
either the same route, or goes across the Ural to Ufa and thence 
to Nizhni. The caravans for Orenburg usually stop at that 
place, and the goods are then generally placed on carts and 
taken to Samara on the Volga ; a railway is now being built 
between Samara and Orenburg, which will greatly facilitate 
communications. Krasnovodsk, on the Caspian, is connected 
with Astrakhan and thence with Nizhni by occasional steamers. 

Communications being so difficult, the Eussians have natu- 
rally considered what could be done to improve them, and various 
plans have been suggested. It was at first thought that there 
could be water communication by the Sry Darya, and that this 


would be the main line of trade for the region about Tashkent, 
but, as I have shown in a previous chapter, the difficulties 
in the way have thus far proved too great. For the Khivan 
trade it was also desired to run steamers from Kazala through 
the Aral Sea and up the Amu Darya. Some of the obstruc- 
tions which impede the navigation of that river at the delta 
were removed, and in 1874 a steamer did succeed in reaching 
Nukus, but by a round-about route through the Dau Kara 
lake, and with the greatest difficulty. Explorations have been 
made of the old bed of the Oxus, partly with a purely scientific 
aim, and partly to investigate the possibility of turning the 
water of the river once more into its old channels. It has 
been found that a well defined bed exists in what is called the 
Uzboi, debouching in the Caspian near Krasnovodsk, and it is 
believed that if the dams on the Laudan were removed, the 
water would flow along the old beds for some distance, at least 
as far as Sary Kamysh ; but there seems to be this difficulty in 
all the schemes for the improvement of river navigation in 
Central Asia, that the amount of water in the rivers is not so 
great as formerly, owing no doubt in a great measure to the 
destruction of forests on the mountains along their upper 
courses. In order to have sufficient water for navigation it 
would seem to be necessary to destroy the irrigation systems, 
and this by diminishing, if not putting an end to the produc- 
tive power of the countries of Central Asia, and thus destroying 
the commerce, would remove the only reason for which naviga- 
tion is considered requisite. 

The idea of a railway has therefore been mooted. There 
were frequent suggestions of the possibility of a railway ; and 
in 1873 General Beznosikof, an official who had served a 
time at Semipalatinsk and who still needed two or three 
years of active service in order to receive a pension, was 
assigned to the duty of investigating the feasibility of con- 
structing a railway to Tashkent. He has made a voluminous 
report, but from what I saw of his methods of enquiry, and 
from what was told me at Semipalatinsk, I should not be 
inclined to place much confidence in his reports or in his pro- 
jects. The idea, however, of a Central Asiatic railway made 
no great head until it was taken up by M. de Lesseps in his 
letter to General Ignatieff of May 1, 1873. M. de Lessepa 


laid stress on the fact that over the route from Calais to 
Calcutta by way of Orenburg, 7.370 miles, railways had already 
been constructed as far as Orenburg on one side and Peshawur 
on the other, making together 5,100 miles, and that it was 
therefore necessary in order to complete the line to construct 
less than half that amount, namely 2,270, of which Eussia 
should make 1,470 miles from Orenburg to Samarkand, and 
England the remaining 800 from Samarkand to Peshawur. 
For the preliminary surveys he considered that there would be 
necessary two years of time and three millions of francs, which 
could be collected by a public subscription, the subscribers tc 
form the ' Grand Central Asiatic Railway Society.' In a sub- 
sequent letter to Lord Granville, M. de Lesseps dilated on 
the advantages of his plan, and stated that he intended to send 
his son and another engineer to India to make the preliminary 
studies. According to The St. Petersburg Exchange Gazette of 
April 5-17, 1874, this idea did not originate with M. de 
Lesseps, but he owed it to M. Cotard and M. Yanitzky, the 
latter a Russian engineer who succeeded to M. Lavalet, one oi 
the chief constructors of the Suez canal. These gentlemen 
were in St. Petersburg at a time when various societies there 
were busying themselves with Asiatic trade routes, and entered 
fully into their ideas, and procured from them statistics on the 
subject. However this may be, it was not until after M. de 
Lesseps' letter that the idea of a Central Asiatic railway took 
any strong hold on the Russian public. Immediately nume- 
rous projects were brought forward, some of them of an even 
wilder nature than that of M. de Lesseps : Mr. Bogdanovitch, 
for example, seriously proposed to construct a railway from 
Saratof on the Volga to Gurief at the mouth of the Ural, and 
then across the Ust-urt to Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, 
with one branch to Tashkent and another to Peshawur. 

Subseqently it was proposed, instead of M. de Lesseps' 
railway to Tashkent, Samarkand,, Kabul, and Peshawur, to 
turn it eastward from Tashkent to Khokand and Kashgar, and 
then over the Karakorum to Ladak, a work which would 
demand more engineering skill than any railway yet constructed. 
The divergence in views of the Russian and English Govern- 
ments, with regard to Asiatic affairs, and the character and 
political condition of some of the countries through which a 


railway to India must pass, will probably for a long time 
prevent the construction of any such railway, and therefore, so 
much of it as concerns India may be left out of the question. 
So far, the projects for a direct railway to Central Asia have not 
received much encouragement from the Eussian Government 
— the scheme having been rejected in a special ministerial 
council held on the subject of a letter of M. de Lesseps to the 
Emperor — although the Tashkent authorities have considered 
them more seriously. The engineering difficulties of a railway 
from Orenburg to Tashkent, Samarkand, and even as far south 
as the Amu Darya, through Karshi, would be trifling ; but the 
cost of construction, and more than that of running, on account 
of the lack of water and fuel, would be immense. Besides this 
the greater part of the country which would be traversed by 
this railway is now almost uninhabited, and utterly unfit for 
colonisation. That such a railway could be built I have no doubt, 
if the Government for military reasons considered it necessary ; 
but what I have before said with regard to the trade of Central 
Asia — which, including everything, amounts to barely three 
and a half million pounds sterling a year — will show in some 
measure what returns such a railway could expect. If Tashkent 
be ever connected with Eussia by rail, it will probably be by 
means of a branch from the Siberian railway which will sooner 
or later be built. Although the route has not been actually fixed, 
it is practically determined to build a railway which will connect 
Moscow with Tiumen in Siberia, and ultimately with Omsk 
and Irkutsk. It is even possible that the railway from Samara 
to Orenburg may be the beginning of the Siberian railway, and 
in that case it would naturally pass through Troitsk and 
Petropavlovsk. From Petropavlovsk to Akmolinsk the country, 
although steppe land, is fertile, well watered, and suitable for 
colonisation. A railway here could be as easily constructed as was 
the Pacific railway in the United States ; and were lands along 
the line to be granted to the railway company, sufficient coloni- 
sation might be attracted from the northern and inclement 
parts of Eussia, to go a great way towards paying the expenses of 
the railway When a railway shall have reached that distance, it 
will be comparatively easy to extend it to Tashkent, should 
reasons of state render it advisable or necessary. 




'Hie Mullah — Tchinaz — The Famished Steppe — Assafcetida — Murza Rabat — 
Jizakh — Gates of Tamerlane — Rock inscriptions — Tchupan-Ata — First 
view of Samarkand — Hafistas — Early history — The Grseco-Bactrian dy- 
nasty — Chinese travellers— Clavijo — Baber's description — The Russian 
conquest — Siege of the citadel by the natives, and its heroic defence by 
the Russians — Mosque of Shah Zindeh — Bibi Khanym — Shir-dar — Tomb 
of Timur — The Kok-tash — Hodja Akhrar — Koran of Othman — Bazaars — 
Dervishes — The Jews — Abdul Rahman Khan of Affghanistan — Russian 
adventurers — Russian soldiers — Russian administration. 

It was on a lovely May evening when, with my interpreter the 
Mullah Hair-ullah, I set out for Samarkand. Driving rapidly 
over a good road, which led out of the town, and between the 
high clay walls of the many gardens, we came suddenly on the 
magnificent villa of the Governor-General, which is almost as 
well fitted up as his town house ; then passing through more 
gardens and open fields, we reached the little station of Niazbash, 
when it was already dark. The Mullah is a Eussian Tartar 
from Kazan, who had been educated in the medresse there, 
and had come out to seek his fortune in Tashkent, where he 
had relations, being a nephew of my friend Alim Hadji Yunusof. 
He had been employed as an interpreter and as an assistant in 
the custom office, but had preferred to leave the service, being 
disgusted with the corruption which he saw about him, and 
had set up a small shop at the Sunday bazaar where he sold 
prints and cottons ; not that he contented himself with that 
entirely, for he had decided literary tastes, knowing Persian 
and Arabic as well as Russian, Tartar, and Kirghiz, and re- 
membering enough of his Latin to be able to translate for me 
half of an ode of Horace. His great regret was that he had 
never gone to the University. His leisure he occupied with 
reading the Koran and theological and legal books, and with 

VOL. T. Q 


translating the s Arabian Nights,' for the supplement to the 
' Turkistan Gazette,' that being considered probably by the 
authorities the most innocent and improving reading which 
could be given to the natives, as it is utterly devoid of political 
tendencies. Mullah Hair-ullah was a very pleasant companion, 
and, although he had never visited Samarkand before, had been 
about the country, and knew the traditions of various places, 
although, as I afterwards found, it was hardly necessary for me 
to have taken an interpreter, as in Samarkand I got on well 
enough without one. 

The road now became very bad, being over the high ground 
which bordered the river Tchirtchik, and the clayey soil was 
worn into large holes filled with the finest dust. Passing the 
remains of Old Tashkent, a pretty and rather picturesque, 
though tumble-down place, we arrived at Tchinaz, on the 
bank of the Syr Darya, at five o'clock in the morning. Here 
is a large fort to guard the ferry over the river, and close by a 
Eussian settlement of a few houses, the native town being 
several miles off. In the first flush of occupation it was ex- 
pected by the Eussians that Tchinaz would become a place of 
some importance, as it was the head of steam navigation on 
the Syr Darya, but the steamers of the Aral flotilla being so 
irregular in their visits, and the navigation of the river being 
so bad as to discourage any private companies from starting 
vessels there, the great commercial future of Tchinaz has not 
yet arrived, and it remains a little Cossack settlement. The 
river here is about two thirds of a mile wide, and I fowd a 
rapid current in the muddy yellow water. The ferry Doat is 
a large rude scow, which is rowed over the river by eight or 
nine men working two large oars in the bow, but the Kirghiz 
who keep the ferry are such bad watermen that it takes a long- 
time to cross, and even then the boat has been taken by the 
current far below the landing place, and all the men have to 
get out and tow it with ropes up to some place where passengers 
and their horses can be landed. This operation took us more 
than an hour. 

From the river almost to Jizakh, 1 eighty miles, extends 
an arid Steppe called by the Eussians the ' Golodnaya ' or 

' This name, which means key, is also spelled Dizakh. I give the usual pro- 


* Famished Steppe,' which is now a parched and barren waste, 
although at one or two places there are wells and cisterns of 
brackish and unpleasant water. Near the river there are traces 
of old canals and ditches, showing that there at least the land 
was atone time cultivated ; and it is known that some portions 
of the Steppe near to the mountains were formerly inhabited 
and worked, by means of a canal which was brought from the 
river Zarafshan through a small mountain pass. The cultivated 
districts were, however, probably always small, for we know 
from the Chinese traveller Tch'ang-Tch'un, who in 1222 passed 
through this region on his journey to the camp of Tchinghiz 
Khan, that the most of it was then, as now, a bare Steppe, and 
he speaks of the great difficulty and discomfort which his party 
had in crossing it. 1 The fact too that stations and cisterns 
were erected on the road, — the legend says by Abdullah Khan 
(1597) — shows that this road did not lie through an inhabited 
district. The canals which lie near the Syr Darya were pro- 
bably filled by the water from that river, possibly pumped into 
them, as is sometimes done even now by the Kirghiz. There 
is a project at T-^kent to irrigate this Steppe by the con- 
struction of a large canal from the Syr Darya above Hodjent, 
and engineers who have examined the spot declare this to be 
feasible, the Syr Darya falling about a foot in a verst ; still no 
careful survey for such a canal has been made, and it is declared 
by many that such a canal is impossible, and that all money 
spent before a survey is made is simply thrown away. The 
work on the canal has, however, been already begun. 

Near the bank of the river the uneven ground was thickly 
covered with high reeds, affording, as I was told, lurking places 
for numerous tigers. Beyond, the Steppe was still of a bright 
green, interspersed with scarlet patches of poppies, as far as the 
station of Malek, about fifteen miles from the river. Here there 
were once wells, but they are now choked up, and the water used 
at the station, which is a little underground hut, is brought 
from the river. Mr. Zemtchuzhnikoff, the contractor for this 

1 In the memoirs of Hiouen Thsang, six hundred years before (629-645) it is 
said: 'One enters into a great sandy desert, where neither water nor grass is to 
be found. .... It is necessary to look at some high mountain in the distance, and 
seek for abandoned bones, to know how to guide oneself and recognise the path 
to be followed.' — Voyages des Pe/erins Bouddkitfcs. Stanislaus Julien. 


post route, whom I met at Malek while I was detained for want 
of horses, told me that he believed it would be possible to clean 
these wells, and have a sufficient supply of water to cultivate 
enough corn and bailey for the whole route to Jizakh. He had 
made a proposition to the government, offering to do this on 
condition of being given the waste land which he should re- 
claim ; but after nearly a year occupied in negotiations, he was 
informed that the government would gladly see him reclaim 
the land, but would be unwilling to give him the title to it. 
This was sufficient to deter him from taking any steps in the 
matter. The canal, which will necessitate the handling of large 
sums of money, seems to be the favourite project with the 
authorities. Beyond Malek, the Steppe, so noted for its tor- 
toises and venomous spiders, while without grass, was covered 
with very small herbs, and occasional flowers. The most charac- 
teristic vegetation was the Assafcetida plant (Scorodosma 
foetidum\ which grows here in great profusion. The leaves 
had fallen to the ground and died, but there rose a tall round 
stem, a foot or more high, branching off at the top, like the 
spokes of a wheel, into small heads of insignificant flowers. 
The peculiar odour of the plant was very perceptible, though 
I am told that it disappears after boiling, and that the young 
shoots and heads are considered by the Kirghiz as a great 
delicacy. I did not try them. 

Twenty miles from Malek are the ruins of an old caravan- 
serai called Murza-Rabat, supposed to have been built by the 
famous Abdullah Khan, who did so much in this way for 
travellers. The building is made of large square bricks, and 
consists of a* central room surmounted by a dome and sur- 
rounded with small vaulted rooms, each having its little cupola. 
Originally it must have been very large and it was certainly a 
handsome building ; but now the outside walls are shattered, 
though it can still afford a shelter, and is occupied not only as 
a post station, but by a small guard of Cossacks. Opposite this 
is what is called a sardoba, or cistern, which is a large under- 
ground chamber, covered with a flat roof, built of burnt bricks, 
with large arched windows on a level with the ground. At one 
side there is an entrance down a steep incline to the bottom, 
but the brick staircase has long since disappeared. It is said 
that this cistern was at times full up to the window sills with 


water, but the inside is now quite bare, though there is a well 
of brackish water in one corner. Inside of this it was delight- 
fully cool after the hot Steppe. At the next station, Agatchly, 
there were formerly similar buildings, but the caravanserai has 
disappeared, leaving nothing but some hillocks of earth and 
bricks, in which underground rooms have been hollowed out for 
the use of the Cossacks. I found the water to be disagreeable 
to take much of, and the tea which it made was thick, muddy, 
bitter and salt. The horses do not like it, but the Cossacks 
drink it without disagreeable consequences. It is very probable 
that if the wells in this Steppe were cleaned and deepened, pure 
water could be obtained in large quantities, even sufficient for 
irrigating the surrounding land, as the subsoil is of gravel and 
conglomerate, and similar experiments at Tashkent have re- 
sulted successfully. It would be necessary to line carefully the 
sides of the wells, to prevent the water dissolving out the saline 
ingredients of the soil. 

As we approached Jizakh we saw a slight range of mountains, 
which further on grew higher, as they enclosed the Upper Zaraf- 
shan valley, extending away to the left in the direction of Ura- 
tepe. At last the Steppe grew more and more fertile, trees and 
fields began to appear, and we saw before us the walls and houses of 
Jizakh. Passing round through the now almost deserted bazaar, 
for it was near sunset, and turning a sharp corner we brought 
up at the post station. Jizakh itself, now a very insignificant 
town, of importance only from its bazaar, was formerly an im- 
portant frontier fortress of Bukhara. General TchernaierT 
advanced toward it in 1866, hoping to take it by a coup-de- 
mam, and thus cause the release of his envoys, who were then 
imprisoned in Bukhara, but found, however, that the fortress 
was too strong for him, and returned to Tchinaz. In the 
autumn of the same year, after the capture of Ura-tepe, Jizakh 
was taken by the Kussian troops under command of Greneral 
Kryzhanofsky. Several thousand men had worked during eight 
whole months to render the fortress as strong as possible, and 
the city was surrounded by triple walls of increasing height, — • 
the outside one being eight yards high and nine yards thick, — 
and by a triple ditch in some places twenty-five feet deep. 
There were many barbettes and towers, and the citadel was the 
acme of native engineering. The works were carried on even 


to the last minute before the storm, wnen the gates were walled 
up, and the Commander, Allayar Bek, resolved to perish if he 
did not save the town. The garrison consisted of at least 
10,000 men, with 53 guns, and was composed of the remnants of 
best troops of the Amir, strengthened by bodies of Afghans, 
Persians and Turkomans, who had not only the usual match- 
locks, but also muskets of European form, and many pistols. 

The defence was well managed, and the natives did not 
open fire at long range as usual, but waited until the Eussians 
had come close to the city. After several days spent in re- 
connaissances, and in placing the batteries, the fire opened on 
the city on October 28, and on the 30th at noon an assault 
was ordered. In an hour the fortress was in the hands of the 
Russians. The enemy for some time refused to give in, and, 
massed in front of the gates, were actually slaughtered there, 
very few escaping. A small part of the garrison, seeing the 
impossibility of further resistance, threw themselves into the 
powder-magazine and blew themselves up. Of the eighteen 
Beks who were present, sixteen — among them Allayar, the 
commander of the garrison — fell in hand-to-hand fight. Nearly 
6,000 of the garrison are supposed to have perished, and some 
2,000 were taken prisoners. The Russians lost 6 killed and 
92 wounded. Just after the capture of Jizakh, the cavalry left 
to defend the Russian camp were attacked by a Bukharan force 
of 2,000 men with 18 guns sent to reinforce the garrison, but 
on meeting with resistance, and learning the fate of the city, 
they fled. A great portion of the town was destroyed at 
that time, and since then Jizakh has lost its importance. It 
is noted for its great unhealthiness, and especially for the 
prevalence of the reshta or guinea worm. Owing to the 
unwholesome quality of the water, which is principally obtained 
from ponds, it became necessary to place the Russian garrison 
about three miles off, where there were some springs of fresh 
water ; and about this little fort a small village has grown up, 
which in its turn is beginning to be deserted, since the transfer 
of the greater portion of the garrison to the healthier locality 
of Ura tepe It is supposed that the great numbers of dead, 
who were but slightly buried, have had some effect in causing 
the fevers which rage there ; though these are also ascribed to 
the winds which blow up the defile of Jalan-uta. laden with 


miasma from the rice fields near Yany Kurgan. The Eussian 
troops have to change their quarters constantly, and one-third 
of them are always in the hospital, while the cemetery grows 

From Jizakh the road leads through what is known as the 
defile of Jilan-uti, 1 a somewhat narrow valley between the low 
hills, in no place, I think, wider than 100 yards. The small 
stream which runs through it toward Jizakh takes such a 
zig-zag course that it is necessary to cross it eight or ten 
times before being well clear of it ; occasionally the road 
follows its bank, but sometimes we were obliged to climb a 
hundred feet up the hill side. This pass, serving as it did for 
the entrance of the Mongol and Turkish hordes into the fertile 
valley of the Zarafshan, has been the scene of many bloody 
struggles, two of which are handed down to us by inscriptions 
on one of the high pyramidal slaty rocks known by the name 
of the * Gates of Tamerlane,' though neither inscription nor 
legend speaks of that conqueror. The rock to the right, some 
400 feet high, standing out quite alone in the valley, has 
deeply cut on a smoothed square place, about 40 feet from the 
base, two Persian inscriptions. The mullah, with the aid of an 
opera glass, was able to translate for me both inscriptions, the 
first of which says : ' With the help of God the Lord, the Great 
Sultan, conqueror of kings and nations, shadow of God on 
earth, the support of the decisions of the Sunna and of the 
divine law, the ruler and aid of the faith, Ulug Bek Gurugan 
(may God prolong the time of his reign and rule) undertook a 
campaign in the country of the Mogols and returned from this 
nation into these countries uninjured, in the year 828.' (a.d. 
1425.) This Ulug Bek was the famous grandson of Timur, so 
well known for his patronage of learning, for the observatory 
and college which he founded at Samarkand, and for his 
astronomical tables. 

The second inscription relates to one of the victories of 
Abdullah Khan, a century and a half later. ' Let passers in 
the waste, and travellers on land and water, know that in the 
year 979 (a.d. 1571) there was a conflict between the army of 

1 The natives explain this as meaning — 'a serpent has passed' — on account 
of tho turns in the detile ; and Mir Izzel Ullah says that he was tcld that tb* 
defile was greatly infected by serpents. 


the lieutenant of the Khalifate, the shadow of the Almighty, 
the great Khakan Abdullah Khan, son of Iskender Khan, con- 
sisting of 30,000 men-of-war, and the army of Dervish Khan, 
and Baba Khan, and other sons of Barak Khan. In this army 
there were 50 relatives of the Sultan, and 400,000 fighting 
men from Turkistan, Tashkent, Fergana, and Deshta Kiptchak. 
The army of the sovereign, by the fortunate conjunction of the 
stars, gained the victory, having conquered the above-mentioned 
Sultans, and gave to death so many of them that, from the 
people who were killed in the fight and after being taken 
prisoners, during the course of one month blood ran on the 
surface of the water in the river to Jizakh. Let this be known.' 
On emerging from this defile we are again on the Steppe, 
with before us a distant view of the snow-covered peaks south of 
Samarkand, and passing the town of Yany Kurgan, we come at 
la»$t to Tash-Kupriuk, or ' Stone Bridge,' where hills begin once 
more. The bridge over the little stream, which runs between 
two steep banks, is now only a wooden one, in a very bad state 
of repair. A small Eussian fort at the top of the hill guards 
the passage. Here, though fortunately before coming to the 
bridge, the stupid sleepy native driver was unable to manage 
the horses, letting them climb up the steep hill side and over- 
tun i our carriage. I was asleep at the time, but managed at 
last to undo the curtains and crawl out, as the horses luckily 
stood still. We had some difficulty in righting the heavy 
carriage, but discovered that nothing was broken but the top, 
and that the wheels were all right. It was but a few rods to 
the station, to which we now preferred to walk. After that 
accident I was never able to sleep with comfort while travelling, 
which was a great annoyance, as it necessitated my stopping for 
sleep at least one night out of three. FYom here we descended 
into the lower valley of the Zarafshan, where the road constantly 
led through gardens and fields, and over and along numerous 
canals. At Jambai, a large village, the country people were 
already thronging to the bazaar. From here we had to take 
a side road through fields, as the new chaussee was still un- 
finished. This is one of the improvements of the prefect of 
Samarkand, and will be an excellent thing over this clayey 
soil. The road is macadamised, and has a double row of trees 
on each side. At last,after crossingtwo or three small branches, we 


came to the main stream of the Zarafshan — the * gold-strowing,' 
— above the dyke built to divide the waters and send the proper 
contingent to Bukhara. The water was then so high as to 
compel us to put all our luggage on a high native cart, which 
was piloted over by the guardians of the ford, and the empty 
carriage was dragged through the water and arrived soaked. 
On our left rose a high, bare hill called Tchupan-ata, the top 
of which is crowned by the small tomb of a saint of the same 
name, who is the patron of shepherds as well as of the city of 
Samarkand. There is an old legend, that when the original 
Arab missionaries were journeying to preach the religion of 
Mohammed, they stopped on this hill, and cutting up and boil- 
ing a sheep agreed to decide by lot the direction of their future 
journeys. One put his hand into the pot and drew out the 
head, which gave him the first choice, and he decided to remain 
at Samarkand ; another drew the heart and chose to go back 
to Mecca ; while the third got the hind quarter and preferred 
Bagdad. Hence Samarkand is called the head, and Mecca the 
heart of Islam to this day. The one who remained at Samar- 
kand received the name of Tchupan-ata, Father Shepherd. It 
was on this hill that the celebrated observatory of Ulug Bek 
stood, where the astronomical tables that bear his name were 
calculated. At its foot are what seem to be the remains of a 
very ancient bridge, built of stone and brick, two complete 
arches of which are still standing disposed at right angles to 
each other, with apparently the ruins of a tower at the corner. 
I could get no information nor even hear of a tradition about 
the origin of these remains, which are called the Bridge of 
Shadman-Malik. We now skirted along the base of the hill, 
till, as we came to the highest point of the road, we saw before 
us the clay roofs, crowned with large blue domes and lofty 
towers, and knew that we had reached the famous Samarkand. 
Lovely as the view was, it did not last long, for we speedily 
descended into a narrow valley between houses and gardens, 
and soon passed the base of a high clayey hill, hollowed out 
into countless caverns, where saints are said to have lived in 
hermitage. By the side of the road ran a little rivulet, which, 
passing through a green field, was somewhere lost under the 
wall of the town. On our right were the high towers and 
domes of the mosque Shah Zindeh, and on our left the immense 


dome of Bibi Kbanym. Passing the cemetery, full of mounds 
and ruined brick tombs, assailed at every step by lepers and 
beggars, we entered the gate of Shah Zindeh, and found our- 
selves on the new boulevard, with its good pavement and shady 
trees, which the Russians have made from this gate to the 
fortress. We had to go to the end of this road and pass round 
the fortress to the poet-station, which lay on the other side, in 
what will be the Russian town. 

There are no hotels in Samarkand, and I had been recom- 
mended to put up at the house of a Mussulman, a Hodja, where 
I would probably have facilities for best seeing the native life. 
He lived on the boulevard, but was absent from home, and I 
therefore resolved to stay, for the time at least, at the post- 
station, which proved to be a large, new, and clean building. 
Having refreshed myself with a bath and some tea, I found a 
droshky — for even in Samarkand there are droshkies — and 
drove to the citadel to call on General Abramoff, the Governor, 
to whom I had letters. He was at home and received me 
most cordially — a short, amiable man, with grey hair, though 
still young, and a black skull-cap which he is allowed to wear 
on account of a wound received in his head. Finding I had no 
place where I could live, he requested the Prefect of the city 
to give me a lodging, and I accordingly had my luggage trans- 
ferred to his house that afternoon. After leaving the General's 
I could not resist the temptation of driving about the town, 
and taking a hasty view of some of its wonder ul ruins. From 
the citadel itself there was a magnificent view. The whole 
town lay spread out before me, with the columns and domes of 
the three great mosques standing up just opposite to me. 
From the middle of the market place on either side, melon- 
shaped domes rose above the flat-roofed houses, and the back- 
ground was closed in by a range of high mountains, their tops 
then covered with dazzling snow. I went first to the bazaar to 
get an idea of the wealth of blue and white mosaic which 
still bedecked the ruins of the splendid mosques. Here I saw 
a large crowd on the steps of one of the mosques, and the 
platforms of the booths, and even sitting in a great circle on 
the pavement Inside the circle two boys were reciting verses. 
1 They are Hafistas? a bystander said to me, meaning that 
they were reciters of religious poems. Each of them had a 


Dook, though they made no use of them except to put them at 
the sides of their mouths, so as to throw the sound to different 
parts of the audience. Their declamation was occasionally so 
loud and shrill that they placed both hands on their ears in 
order not to deafen themselves with their own cries, while 
at times they spoke in a low, well- modulated voice. These 
cries and monotonous chants seemed greatly to affect the 
audience, and there were continual sighs and smothered excla- 
mations. The person who first spoke to me, seeing that I was 
greatly interested, again addressed me, asking me if I did not 
think it all very beautiful, and seemed much pleased at my 
agreeing with him. I then told my driver to take me to the 
tomb of Tiraur, but he having slight acquaintance with Samar- 
kand drove me instead to the mosque of Shah Zindeh. I paid 
but little attention to the tomb of the saint, my curiosity being 
attracted by the proceedings of the Jahria brotherhood in the 
little mosque at the entrance. The rites were much the 
same as I had seen at Tashkent, but there seemed far more 
excitement, and the mosque was crowded with worshippers, all 
looking intently at the struggling crowd of devotees, who were 
pushing each other from side to side of the mosque, with con- 
tinual shouts of ' Hasbi rabi jal Allah ! ' ' My defence is the 
Lord, magnify Allah ! ' 

With vivid impressions of all that I had seen — for Samar- 
kand is very different from Tashkent, and seems, as it were, a 
remnant of a far-off world — I gladly went to the Prefect's, and 
passing through a large court with its square water-basin in the 
centre, surrounded with old trees, I entered the house, a native 
one of considerable beauty, altered by the insertion of windows 
to suit Eussian convenience, and found dinner waiting for me, 
which after two days and nights of dusty travelling was parti- 
cularly agreeable. I could not. however, keep quiet, and 
before sunset wandered out again to take in once more the 
beautiful view from the citadel, where, fortunately, I met a 
cousin of some old friends in Moscow, who took me home with 
him to tea, and to a delightful evening. I saw much of him 
on this occasion, and in the two subsequent visits I made 
to Samarkand I was his guest, and I owe so much to his 
kind hospitality, and to the sensible talk of himself and his 
friends, that I look back to Samarkand with feelings of 


special pleasure, and consider it one of the places in the world 
to which I would gladly return at any time or under any 

There is no place in Central Asia, the name of which has so 
impressed the imagination of Europe as Samarkand. Sur- 
rounded by a halo of romance, visited at rare intervals, and 
preserving the traditions of its magnificence in a mysterious im- 
penetrability, it long piqued the curiosity of the world. The 
local traditions ascribe its foundation to Afrosiab, a mythical 
hero, whose conquests and victories are legendary in Persia and 
Turkey, as well as in Central Asia. A hill just outside the 
walls covered with ruins and mounds is called Kalai Afrosiab, 
and is said to be the original site of the city. 1 However this 
may be, Samarkand came into history as Maracanda, the capital 
of Sogdiana when it was conquered by Alexander the Great. 
The meaning of the name is uncertain ; the termination handy 
signifying a town, is frequent in Central Asia, but as to the 
derivations of Mara or Samar one cannot give more than very 
ingenious, but scarcely plausible guesses. 2 In Alexander's 
time it was a large and flourishing city. Quintus Curtius 
says that its walls were seventy stadia in circumference, 
and that the citadel was then, as now, surrounded by another 
wall. It was here that Alexander killed his old friend and 
comrade Clytus in a fit of drunken passion ; and Samarkand was 
his head-quarters during the contests with the mountain tribes 
and the expedition against the Scythians across the Syr-Darya, 
which was confounded with the Tanais or Don — a mistake 
which was kept up by later geographers out of flattery for 
Alexander, who thought that he had made the circuit of Asia 

1 During the spring of 1875 some unsystematic excavations were made in this 
place, resulting in the discovery of broken pavements, ruins of houses, and of an 
ancient pottery. The explorers found many perfect jugs and bowls, glass-ware, 
from its decoration apparently made by Chinose workmen, glazed tiles, and coins. 

2 Ye-lii Tch'u-ts'ai, the minister of Tchinghiz Khan, in describing his travels 
to the west in 1219, calls it Siin-sze-kan, and adds : ' Western people say that the 
meaning of this name is ' fat,' and as the land there is very fertile, the city 
received this name.' Chinese authors now frequently write the name Sie-mi-sze- 
kan, which would correspond to Semiscant, as the Nestorians and others called it 
in the Middle Ages. In fact semi or semiz in various Turkic languages means 
' fat ; ' but this is probably only an explanatory adaptation, such as made Tash- 
kent from Shash. The original name is probably of Persian origin. Hiouen- 
Thsang writes it Sa-mo-kien. 


and had returned to Europe. The city of Alexandria, which he 
founded, is usually placed at Hodjent, and was probably a mere 
collection of mud huts where a few infirm soldiers were colon- 
ised. The exploits of Alexander, or Iskender Dulkarnain (the 
two-horned\ in this region have been preserved by legend, and 
are known to every inhabitant. Many of the petty princes in 
the mountain countries of the Upper Oxus claim to be de- 
scended from him. The generals to whom he entrusted these 
provinces of Bactriana and Sogdiana did indeed found dynasties 
— called Grseco-Bactrian — which lasted until about a hundred 
and thirty years before the Christian Era, and introduced a 
certain degree of Greek culture (among other things the Mace- 
donian calendar) of which no traces now remain, except the 
numerous coins and medals bearing the effigies of Demetrius, 
Euthydemus, Antimachus, and others, which are now often 
found on the Steppe and in the ruins about Samarkand. It is 
curious that these coins were rudely imitated by the contem- 
porary rulers of the surrounding states, as well as by later 
sovereigns. 1 

The Grraeco-Bactrian dynasty had its day, and passed away ; 
and was succeeded by the Yuetchji (as we are told by the 
Chinese general Tchjan-Tsian, who visited the country of Sa- 
markand in 125 B.C.), apparently a nomad tribe living in the 
Steppe, whose capital was near the present Khiva. 2 The 
country was probably still under their rule when it was attacked 
by the Arabs, who after many plundering expeditions succeeded 
in 710 in forcibly introducing Mahommedanism. Persian and 
Turkish princes in their turn put down the Arab dynasty, and 
at last Tchinghiz Khan, the great Mongol conqueror, took and 
plundered the city in 1221. The Arab and Persian historians 
speak much of the barbarities of the Mongols, and represent 
Samarkand as having been completely destroyed. That this 
was not the case is evident from the account of the Chinese 
traveller Tch'ang-Tch'un, who visited Samarkand in the following 
year (1222) and spent the winter there. According to him, 

1 The most complete account of the present state of our knowledge of the 
Graeco-Bactrian dynasties is found in an article of Prof. Grigorief in the ' Journal 
of the Ministry of Public Instruction,' (Russian) for Nov. 1867. 

2 ' Collection of information about the peoples inhabiting Central Asia in ancient 
times,' by the monk Hyacinth (St. Petersburg, 1851), Part III. p. 6-10, 15, &c. 


out of 100,000 families but one-fourth remained, and tkere •* .,* 
much brigandage, but the city seemed to be in good preser a- 
tion, and the fields, orchards, and vineyards were still cul+iva'.ed 
and fruitful. 1 

For centuries after the Mussulman conquest Samarkand 
was a Christian see with a bishop ; Prince Sembat, High Con- 
stable of Armenia, in a letter written about 1246 speaks of the 
flourishing state of the Christians, and of the privileges con- 
ferred on them by Tchinghiz Khan ; and Marco Polo, although 
he did not himself visit the city, tells us that the church of 
St. John the Baptist still existed, the central pillar of which was 
miraculously supported in the air, the stone which had been its 
foundation (a sacred stone of the Mussulmans) having been 
removed by order of the authorities. There are of course no 
traces of any ancient Christian church now ; since the Eussian 
occupation a small modern one erected in the citadel replaces it. 

The dynasty of Tchinghiz was overthrown at last by Timur 
or Tamerlane. This chieftain, who was born at Kesh (now 
Shahrisabs), to the south beyond the mountains, was so attracted 
by the beauty of Samarkand that he made it his capital and 
spared no pains in embellishing and beautifying it, in which he 
was imitated by his successors. It was the beloved resort of 
the great Baber, a hundred years later, who, after having several 
times been driven out of the city, and after having several times 
recaptured it, was obliged at last to abandon it with a sigh, and 
soon afterwards made himself the Emperor of India. What 
Samarkand and its surroundings were under Timur, and what 
magnificence was shown there, we know from the account of the 
good knight Don Euy Gonzalez de Clavijo, who was there in 
1404 on an embassy from King Henry III. of Castile. Hans 
Schiltberger, of Munich, was there as a captive at about the 
same time, but he tells us nothing regarding the city. 2 

1 A Russian translation of the journey of this Tasist monk was published by 
Father Palladii in the 'Labours of the Members of the Russian Religious Mission 
in Pekin,' vol. iv. p. 261. St. Petersburg, 1866. An abridged and imperfect 
French translation was published by the late M. Pauthier in the 'Journal Asiatique,' 
gme Serie, t. ix., and there is an excellent English translation by Dr. Bretschneider 
in his ' Notes on Chinese Mediaeval Travellers to the West,' (-hanghai, 187-5). 

2 Clavijo's 'Life and Acts of the Great Tamerlane ' was in part translated by 
Markham for the Hakluyt Society. Schiltberger is accessible iu Seutiann'i 
edition, Munich, 1859. 



In Baber's time Samarkand must have retained much of its 
former beauty. He says in his ' Memoirs ' under the year 90? 
(1497): ' In the whole habitable world there are few cities so 
pleasantly situated as Samarkand .... I directed its wall to 
be paced round the rampart, and found it was 10,600 paces in 
circumference. The inhabitants are ail orthodox Sunnis, ob- 
servant of the law, and religious. From the time of the Holy 
Prophet downwards no other country has produced so many 
Imams and excellent theologians as Maverannahr.' Baber 
speaks of many palaces and gardens built by Timur and his 
grandson Ulug Bek, at that time still in their glory, though 
many had been ruined. In the garden of Dilkusha, or 'heart's 
delight ' was a large palace with a series of paintings repre- 
senting the wars of Timur in Hindustan. The great mosque 
near the Iron Gate, he calls a very grand building, and says 
that the verses of the Koran inscribed over the portico were 
in letters of such a size as to be read at more than a mile ofT. 
The college of Ulug Bek, and the other colleges, were still in 
their glory ; and the observatory erected on the hill Kohik, or 
Tchupan-ata, Baber describes as being three stories in height, 
and provided with astronomical apparatus. He also says : — 
6 At the foot of the hill of Kohik, on the west, there is a 
garden, named Bagh-i-meidan ('the garden of the plain'), 
in the middle of which is a splendid edifice, two stories high, 
named Chehil-Situn (' the forty pillars '). The pillars are 
all of stone. In the four turrets on the corners of this building 
they have constructed four Guldestehs, or open minarets, 
the road up to which is by these four towers. In every part 
of the building are stone pillars curiously wrought; some 
twisted, others fluted, and some with other peculiarities. The 
four sides of the upper story consist of open galleries, supported 
by pillars all of stone, and in the centre is a grand hall or 
pavilion likewise of stone. The raised floor of the palace is all 
paved with stone. Towards the hill of Kohik there is a small 
garden wherein is a great open hall, within which is a large 
throne of a single stone, about thirty feet long, fifteen broad, 
and two high. This huge stone was brought from a great 
distance. There is a crack in it which it is said to have re- 
ceived since it was brought to this place. In this garden there 
is another state pavilion, the walls of which are overlaid with 


porcelain of China, whence it is called the Chinese house. It ia 
said that a person was sent to Khita (China) for the purpose of 
bringing it. Within the walls of Samarkand is another ancient 
building, called the Laklahi (or echoing) mosque ; because 
whenever any person stamps on the ground in the mosque, an 
echo is returned. It is a strange thing, the secret of which is 
known to nobody.' 

' In the time of Sultan Ahmed Mirza, many of the greater 
and lesser Beks formed gardens, some large, others smaller. 
Among these, the Chehar Bagh of Dervish Mohammed Tarkhan, 
in respect of climate, situation, and beauty, is equalled by few. 
It is situated lower down than the Bagh-i^meidan, on a small 
eminence that rises above the valley of Kulbeh, and commands 
a view of the whole vale, which stretches out below. In this 
Chehar-Bagh there is a variety of different plots laid out one 
above another, all on a regular plan, and elms, cypresses, and 
white poplars, are planted in the different compartments. It 
is a very perfect place. Its chief defect is that it has no great 
stream of running water.' 1 

6 Samarkand is a wonderfully elegant city. One of its dis- 
tinguishing peculiarities is, that each trade has its own bazaar ; 
so that different trades are not mixed together in the same 
place. The established customs and regulations are good. The 
bakers and shops are excellent, and the cooks are skilful.' 

It was probably about this time that the couplet was 
written, ' Samarkand is the face of the earth : Bukhara the 
marrow of Islam : were there not in Mashad an azure dome the 
whole world would be merely a ditch for ablution.' 

From the time of Clavijo, Samarkand was unvisited by 
Europeans until the journey of Khanikoff and Lehmann in 
1841, except by the Kussian envoy Khokhlof in 1620, and by 
the Russian non-commissioned officer Yefremof toward the end 
of the last century. Traditions of its past glories were pre- 
served, and especially of the great library of Greek authors 
which Timur had carried off from Brussa ; and the news of its 
capture by the Russians in 1868 excited a glow of interest, like 
the awakening of some half-forgotten memory, far different 

1 A propos of these gardens of Samarkand Tch'ang Tch'un says : ' Even Chinese 
gardens cannot be compared with them ; but the gardens oi this country are verv 
quiet . no singing of birds is heard there.' 


from the feeling called out by the other successes of Russia in 
Asia. At last, we thought, the curtain is to be drawn aside. 

After the capture of Jizakh in 1866, the Amir of Bukhara 
was more disposed to peace, and a treaty was sent to him by 
General Kaufmann, which he kept for a very long time under 
consideration. According to this treaty one part of the 
boundary line between Turkistan and Bukhara was to run 
along the highest part of the mountain range of Nurata, the 
Russians supposing that there was but one range of mountains. 
It turned out, however, that there were two, and that the im- 
portant Bekship of Nurata lay between them. The Amir was 
in great trouble to know which mountain chain was meant, 
Kara-tau the northern, or Ak-tau the southern. The Russians 
found it impossible to come to any agreement with him, and 
laid this misunderstanding entirely to his disinclination for 
peace, which was partly true. After the discovery by the 
Russians of the existence of the two chains of mountains war 
had already begun. 

At this time in Bukhara there were two parties against the 
Amir, that of his eldest son the Katta-Tiura, and another 
desirous of placing on the throne Seid Khan, the nephew of 
the Amir, then living in Shahrisabs, under the leadership of 
Jura Bek of Shahrisabs, Abdul-Gaffar Bek of Ura-tepe, and 
his brother Omar Bek of Tchilek. Jura Bek said after- 
wards, speaking of Seid Khan : ' The more stupid he was, 
the better for us. We should have been more independent.' 
The conspirators, knowing the position of affairs between the 
Amir and the Russians, ordered Omar Bek to advance from 
Tchilek, and fall upon the Russian forces near Jizakh, so as to 
make them believe that it was an onslaught of the army of the 
Amir. Omar Bek did so, and being easily repulsed immedi- 
ately fled to Shahrisabs, lest the Amir might punish him. 
But a few days before the Afghan Prince Iskender Khan with 
about 2,000 followers had abandoned the Bukharans in conse- 
quence of a quarrel with Omar Bek, and had surrendered to 
the Russians. The Russians naturally thought that the attack 
of Omar Bek was one of revenge against the Afghans, which 
may indeed have been partly the case. General Kaufmann, 
who was still in hopes of coming to a peaceful arrangement 
vol. i. it 


with the Amir, and who had no idea of beginning a campaign, 
was on the point of starting for St. Petersburg, and when the 
courier arrived with the news of the attack on Jizakh, his 
carriage was already at the door. Supposing from this attack 
that the war had been begun by the Amir himself, General 
Kaufmann postponed his departure, and immediately marched 
to Jizakh and thence towards Samarkand. The bands of 
the enemy retired before him as he advanced, and he arrived 
at the banks of the Zarafshan without having had recourse to 
arms. Embassies, however, had constantly been sent to him 
asking for longer and shorter delays, promising that the Amir 
would then sign a treaty, and explaining away the massing of 
the troops'. On the very banks of the river, while the enemy 
were full in sight drawn up on the hill of Tchupan-ata, a fresh 
ambassador brought him a treaty signed by the Amir, which 
purported to be the same General Kaufmann had sent him. It 
was found, however to be totally different. Again time was 
asked, but only two hours were granted for the troops on the 
hill to retire. Instead of retiring they kept up a desultory 
fire, and at last General Kaufmann ordered the attack. This 
affair can hardly be called a battle — though it was made much 
of, and gained for one general the cross of St. George — for the 
Eussian troops no sooner forded the river and advanced up the 
heights than the enemy withdrew, leaving several guns as 
trophies. The next morning (May 14) a deputation came 
from the city of Samarkand, saying that the troops had left 
it, and asking the Eussians to occupy it, expressing at the 
same time their desire to be taken into subjection. The city 
was accordingly occupied, and most of the neighbouring cities 
sent delegations to express their submission. There were, how- 
ever, two exceptions, Tchilek in the north, which had been a 
nest of marauders, and from which the small expedition had 
started which had attacked the Eussian garrison near Jizakh, 
and Urgut in the mountains to the left of the road to Shah- 
risabs. Two detachments were therefore sent against these 

1 In the memoirs (unpublished) of Kamal-eddin, the late Kazi Kalian of 
Samarkand, it is stated that a letter from General Kaufmann demanding the 
surrender of Samarkand had some weeks ago been addressed to the Bek and 
other influential persons. This would seem to show that the campaign wai 


places. Urgut was taken, though the Bek Hussein and the 
garrison escaped, and Tchilek was brought to submission. The 
main body of the troops was sent on to Katta Kurgan in 
pursuit of the Amir's army, and that town was taken by 
General Golovatchef, while a small detacnment under General 
Abramof was sent southward to Kara-tepe against a detachment 
of troops from Shahrisabs which had appeared there. There 
was a small engagement but the Shahrisabs troops after 
beating off the Russians retired into the mountains where it 
was impossible to follow them, and the action was therefore 
without much result. 

In the meantime the position of the Russians had become 
very critical ; the Amir had recovered his hopes and was making 
a stand near Katta Kurgan, threatening the troops of General 
Golovatchef with greatly superior numbers. Communications 
with Tashkent had been for some time cut off, and the nephew 
of Abul Gaffar Bek had again collected at Tchilek 15,000 
cavalry to fall upon the small Russian garrison left at Yany 
Kurgan. The lack of intelligence from the army at Samar- 
kand was leading to much excitement among the natives at 
Tashkent, and in fact in all towns under Russian rule, and a 
great disaster might have been ruinous. At the same time 
20,000 troops from Shahrisabs were threatening Samarkand 
from the mountains twenty miles to the south. It was 
impossible to attack them, for they would merely retire again 
through the mountain passes, and the movement would result 
in nothing. General Kaufmann therefore decided — leaving a 
small garrison at Samarkand — to advance to the support of 
General Golovatchef, thinking that possibly he might be able 
to have a decisive battle with the Amir which would end the 
contest and force a peace. After having gone only a few miles 
from Samarkand, General Kaufmann received a direct report 
from General Golovatchef that he was entirely surrounded by 
the enemy who were attacking him in overwhelming numbers, 
and he therefore advanced by a forced march. 

General Kaufmann and his forces were no sooner out of 
sight than the troops of Shahrisabs appeared in the outskirts 
of Samarkand, where many of them had been for some time 
secreted. The motives which actuated the leaders of Shahrisabs 
were peculiar. I have spoken before of the conspiracy to 

B 2 


overturn the Amir. When General Kaufmann had advanced 
on the road to Samarkand as far as Yany Kurgan, messen- 
gers reached him from Jura Bek and Baba Bek promising 
to give him secret assistance if necessary against the Amir, 
and agreeing in case this were not necessary to remain neutral 
in the contest, on condition that when Samarkand should 
be occupied he should not demand their presence in that 
city. General Kaufmann expressed his great pleasure at 
this message, but said that active assistance would be un- 
necessary. Nevertheless, after he had taken Samarkand he 
sent for Jura Bek and Baba Bek, despatching as his messenger 
Kamal-eddin, the chief Kazi of Samarkand. According to 
Kamal-eddin's account, Jura Bek at first disbelieved his story, 
and had him imprisoned, but subsequently, finding the errand 
was a true one, thought that the Kussians were playing him 
false, and conseq uently resolved to break with them and make 
his peace with the Amir. He therefore sent a letter to the 
Amir promising to take the field for him against the Kussians ; 
and the Amir, in gratitude for this, offered to transfer to 
him the frontier town of Tchiraktchi, about which there had 
been a constant dispute. It was in consequence of this arrange- 
ment of the Amir that the troops of Shahrisabs had been 
massed at Kara-tepe — even before General Kaufmann's de- 
parture — and had now marched on Samarkand. 

The garrison of Samarkand consisted of 762 men, including 
officers and camp followers and 450 sick and wounded men in 
the hospital. They were well provided with ammunition, but 
the citadel itself was very difficult to defend. It measured 
nearly two miles in circuit, and was full of houses, barracks and 
narrow streets, and in some places the houses outside were built 
up against the walls, so that there was easy access from their 
roofs. In many cases, however, the walls were very high and 
steep, so that it was thought unnecessary to specially guard them, 
and it was possible to concentrate the defence at the two gates 
and at the weaker parts of the enceinte. Before the departure 
of General Kaufmann some efforts had been made to put th<> 
citadel in a better condition, but not much had been done. 
On the evening of June 13, the Aksakals from the Hodja 
Akhrar Gate came to the Commandant with a request for 
troops, saying that there was an attack of the enemy on the 


gate. Major Albedil was sent there with one company of men, 
but found the gates open and no enemy there, and the people 
who lived near the gates said that no hostile forces had been 
seen. A little later, however, large masses of armed men were 
seen on the heights of Tchupan-ata. At three o'clock on the 
morning of the 14th the Aksakals at the same gate came again 
to the Commandant to say that the enemy was attacking the 
city. The Commandant, Major Stempel, went himself to the 
gate with a company and a-half of men and two guns. He met 
some armed bands whom he dispersed, and further on in the 
gardens he saw a crowd of men who fired one or two shots, 
and then ran in the direction of the Bukharan Grate. The 
Aksakals begged him not to fire on them as they were in- 
habitants of the city who had armed themselves to fight against 
the enemy. On returning to the citadel Major Stempel was 
nearly cut off by a large body of men who had intended to take 
easy possession of the citadel while he was in pursuit of an 
imaginary enemy. Measures were at once taken for an active 
defence. Soon after the citadel was attacked on all sides by 
the troops of Shahrisabs, the Ejptchaks, Karakalpaks, and the 
citizens, with beating of drums, blowing of trumpets, and loud 
cries. The garrison, though suffering much from the fire of 
the enemy, which was directed against them from the tops of 
the mosques and minarets, beat off the assaults made on various 
portions of the wall, and succeeded in defeating the attempts 
which were made to set fire to the gates. Every man who 
could possibly leave the hospital volunteered in the defence, 
and Lieut.-Col. Nazarof, who was suffering from a wound, 
waived distinctions of rank, and placed himself under command 
of Major Stempel. The fire was severe during the whole day, 
and the Russian loss was great, two officers and twelve soldiers 
being killed, and four officers and fifty-four men wounded. 

The next day the attack was still continued with the utmost 
vigour, and the Samarkand gates were set on fire, and would 
have been completely destroyed, had not bags of sand been 
placed against them. Toward evening, Jura Bek — who had 
difficulties from the insubordination of the other Beks under his 
command, twenty-two in number, having received intelligence 
of the victory of General Kaufmann at Zera-bulak, and being 
misled by a false report that he was advancing on Shahrisabs, 


withdrew his troops. The others, however, still kept up the siege 
The Eussian loss that day was seventy killed and wounded. The 
attack continued until the 1 9th, though weakened of course by the 
withdrawal of the troops of Shahrisabs. The Eussians were re- 
duced to their last point. It had been found impossible to give at- 
tention to the wounded in the hospital, and those Who were active 
in the defence were almost worn out by fatigue and hunger. The 
garrison had resolved to transfer everything to the great central 
building in the citadel — the Amir's palace — and abandoning 
the walls, to defend that to the utmost, and if fate should be 
against them, to blow up the magazines and to perish, when on 
the evening of the 19th they received the welcome intelligence 
that the troops of General Kaufmann were on their return, and 
had reached the gardens of Samarkand. Out of seven messengers 
who were sent to him, onty one had reached him, the others 
having been intercepted and killed. The whole .Russian loss 
during the siege was more than 180 men; 30 more than had 
been lost by the army in all of its seven engagements with the 
enemy from the time of entering the Zarafshan Valley. This 
defence of Samarkand against overwhelming numbers is one of 
the brightest and most glorious pages in all the history of the 
Eussian advance in Asia. 

Had Jura Bek not abandoned the siege in consequence of 
being misled by the false report that General Kaufmann was 
advancing on Shahrisabs, he would almost without doubt have 
taken the citadel on one of the following days. He would then, 
without paying attention to General Kaufmann's army, have at 
once marched in the direction of Tashkent, falling on that city 
contemporaneously with the insurrection of the inhabitants 
which had been planned, and would probably for the moment 
have entirely annihilated the Eussian power in Central Asia. 
Communications having been cut off, the army of General 
Kaufmann could not have maintained itself in the midst of the 
hostile population. The Khan of Khokand was prepared to join 
the movement, but his envoy Mirza Hakim had been taken on 
the campaign by General Kaufmann, to keep him out of 
mischief, and his reports did not give his master the encourage- 
ment he desired. 

This attack on Samarkand has been often called an act of 
base treachery, but it seems to me that it is impossible to 


consider it in that light. The inhabitants of Samarkand gave 
up their city to save it from pillage, as -Jieir own army had re- 
treated, and they knew perfectly well that it would be occupied. 
The attack of the people of Shahrisabs was certainly not an act 
of treachery, and proceeded from what was supposed to be a 
breach of faith on the Eussian side. It was through the influence 
of the Beks of Shahrisabs that the city was induced to revolt. 
They were acting from policy to preserve their independence, 
and though for a moment taking sides with the Eussians against 
the Amir, it is absurd to suppose that after the misunderstanding 
with General Kaufmann, they would not have taken advantage 
of an excellent chance entirely to annihilate the infidels. 

But to return to the city as it now is. 

The day after my arrival an Aksakal and several jig its were 
ordered to show me all the ruins, and, as friends went with me, 
and we looked at everything carefully, it kept us well occupied 
the whole day. We drove first to the mosque of Shah Zindeh, 
which has been wrongly called by some travellers the summer 
palace of Timur. Kasim Ibn Abbas, tradition tells us, came 
to Samarkand in the early Mussulman times and preached the 
Koran to the infidels with great success, till finally on this very 
spot he was overcome by the enemy and beheaded. But the 
infidel was not destined to triumph : adroitly seizing his head, 
Kasim leaped into a well near by, where he even now remains, 
ready to come forth at some future day as the defender of Islam. 
From this circumstance he is called Shah Zindeh (the living 
king). There is a prophecy, said to be five hundred years old, 
that he was to appear in 1868 to defeat the Eussians ; but 
Samarkand was occupied, and Shah Zindeh appeared not, so 
that his fame has of late somewhat fallen off. The mosque on 
the site of his martyrdom was erected in 1323 by Timur, and 
was without doubt originally very splendid. Even now its 
ruins are — with perhaps one exception— the finest in Central 
Asia. In front is a large arched porta) built of brick, faced 
with porcelain tiles, of white, light blue, and dark blue, arranged 
in mosaic patterns, and in many places forming in Cufic letters 
verses from .the Koran. On each side are small mosques, now 
almost ruined. From the arched door a long staircase leads up 
the hill side. These steps were once covered with slabs of 
marble, but with one or two exceptions these have been 


destroyed, and nothing but the uneven brickwork now remains 
At intervals along the sides are small mosques for tombs ; and 
on the right, in a little court under a dome, is shown the 
famous well in which the faithful can still see, especially at 
night, the form of Shah Zindeh. Of course a draught of the 
water is healing and healthful. At the top are several domed 
buildings, one covering the tomb of the saint, and others the 
tombs of famous mullahs and citizens of Samarkand. One of 
these mosques has a melon-shaped dome, from which the tiles 
have nearly all fallen. The outer building, however, is still 
well preserved, and the inscription surrounding the dome is 
nearly perfect. Once the walls along the staircase were all 
covered with mosaic tiling, but this in most cases has fallen off, 
and quantities of fragments are to be picked up. Sometimes 
there is real mosaic of porcelain-faced bricks; in others the 
brick wall seems to have been covered with a sort of veneer of 
enamel, for the designs do not follow the divisions of the bricks, 
and where patches of it have fallen off, it is easy to perceive 
that it was subsequently applied. The interior walls of the 
buildings are also covered with mosaic work, sometimes in 
bricks, and sometimes in stone, while the various arches and 
domes are full of pendent alabaster work, with arabesque 
designs, always very beautiful. The pillars which hold up the 
domes and the ceilings are all of wood, larger at the top than 
at the bottom, and beautifully carved. The glazed bricks used 
in this and the other buildings in Samarkand were originally 
brought from Kashan, in Persia, where this art was cultivated, 
and all the great edifices in Samarkand — as is evident from 
inscriptions — were erected by Persian architects, or by their 
pupils. 1 The majority of inscriptions on the walls are merely 

1 According to M. Lenormant the peculiarities of Persian and Arabic archi- 
tecture were inherited from Babylonia and Assyria. 'Les toits des Edifices 
assyriens etaient plats, en terrasse, hordes de tous les cotes par un feston de 
creneaux en grndins, dont la disposition a ete conserves par l'arcbitecture arabe 
du moyen age pour le couronneraent des murailles exterieures des edifices, ainsi 
qu'on peut le voir aux belles mosquees du Caire. Cette particularity characteristique 
est nettement indiqueo dans toutes les representations de monuments que con- 
tiennent les bas reliefs ; aussi Mr. Thomas a-t-il et6 pleinement en droit de 
l'introduire dans ses reetaurations. Mais ce n'est pas le seul empruntque l'archi- 
tecture de l'Arabie et de la Perse ait fait aux traditions de l'art assyrien. Lorsqu' 
on voit les dessins dans lesquels l'habile architecte adjoint a, M. Place a restitue 
l'aspeet exterieur des diverses parties du palais de Khorsabad, on se croirai*; en 


texts from the Koran ; occasionally there are epitaphs, but few 
of importance. The mazar or mosque, which covers the tomb 
of Shah Zindeh, is divided into two or three rooms. We found 
a number of persons prostrating themselves in front of a 
niche, in which behind a grating was dimly seen some object 
covered with cloths, looking like a sitting mummy well 
wrapped up ; these cloths are small offerings which have been 
placed in it at different times, consisting of prayer-cloths on 
which Mussulmans have knelt, and which in fulfilment of some 
vow, or in gratitude for some favour, have been bestowed on 
the saint. The mullahs, the guardians of the tomb, quickly 
informed us that the saint was willing to receive offerings 
of money, and took our Eussian silver and paper with alac- 
rity. In the adjoining room there was a large Koran, about 
three feet by two, magnificently illuminated in antique 

Directly opposite the mosque of Shah Zindeh is a little 
brick building constructed in the ancient style, once a mosque, 
but now used as the city prison. Not far from Shah Zindeh, but 
within the city walls, is the beautiful medresse of Bibi Khanym. 
This college was built, it is said, in 1385 by Bibi Khanym, the 
favourite wife of Timur, and the daughter of the Emperor of 
China, and is remarkable not only for the immense span of the en- 
trance, but for the gigantic dome with which the chief building 
is crowned. This dome is double, and the inner lining, though 
half broken away, still holds on its top the heavy column which 
supports the external dome, through which there is also a large 
hole. To enter the chief mosque it is necessary to pass through 
two courts, around which were the cells of the mullahs. Owing 
to the constant dilapidation, caused in great part by earth- 

presence d'un Edifice arabe. Le role si considerable des revetements en faience 
emaillee dans les monuments persans du moyen age tire son origine de l'Assyrie. 
L'emploi des coupoles dans l'architecture arabe et persane a la meme origine.' 
Manuel d'Histoire ancienne de V Orient' par Francois Lenormant. Paris, 1869, 
vol. ii. p. 193. Even the building materials are of very old date : ' Les Assyriens 
.... preferment a la brique sechee ou cuite une espece de pise particulier dont 
ils semblent avoir ete les inventeurs, compose de briques encore molles, qui ad- 
heraient intimement les unes aux autres sans ciment, de telle facon que chaque 
inuraille, chaque voute, une fois sechee, constituait une seule masse compacts. 
C'est la l'unique element de la construction de tous les edifices assyriens que l'o» 
* ibuilles jusqu'a present.' — Id. vol. ii. p. 189. 


quakes, the TnsdressS was disused some twelve years ag>, and 
since that time lias been converted into a market for cotton, 
and is full of mules and horses (which are stabled there), and of 
carts placed there for safe keeping. In the interior of the 
mosque is a large marble reading-desk supported on nine short 
thick pillars, on which formerly lay a large Koran. It is 
believed by the Mussulmans that diseases of the spine will be 
cured by crawling under this desk in all directions. On each 
side of the exterior entrance is a slender minaret, from 
which the mosaic work is fast peeling off. Tradition says that 
Bibi Khanym was once told by a Dervish that she would die by 
the bite of a tarantula, and that she therefore requested Timur 
to have her buried not in Mussulman fashion under the ground, 
but above it in a coffin. It was in consequence of this that 
Timur built this medresse and the mosques adjoining it. 
The clay which was necessary for making the bricks he had dug 
from beneath the building so as to leave large vaults. When 
the medresse was finished and Bibi was inspecting it a large 
serpent came from out of the vaults, and warmed itself in the 
sun. Her attendants wished to kill it, but Bibi prevented this 
and caressed it. On her death Bibi was decorated with all her 
jewels, laid in a coffin studded with golden nails, and placed in 
this vault. Hearing of this, some robbers one night broke into 
the vault and dismantled the body of its ornaments; but before 
they could get away this same serpent came out and bit them 
all to death. The next day people were astonished to see the 
dead bodies, and at once understood the crime and its punish- 
ment. At first no one dared to replace the jewels. At last one 
old man carefully put them all back on Bibi's body; but before 
he could leave the vault the door closed of itself, and shut him 
in for ever. A short time ago the Russian authorities, in 
cleaning the courts of the medresse, found a small mosque which 
had been entirely concealed by the surrounding buildings and 
was almost forgotten, and which they were told contained the 
tomb of Bibi Khanym. A short time after, the roof of •this 
building fell in and broke through the floor, when it was dis- 
covered that there was indeed here a large vault containing many 
gravestones with inscriptions in ancient characters ; but these 
were only prayers and contained neither names nor dates. The 
vault was no sooner opened than the belief spread in the neigh' 


bourhood that the old serpent came out every day to warm 
himself for an hour in the sun. 

In the centre of the bazaar on three sides of the great square, 
called in imitation of that at Bukhara, the Righislan, are the 
medresses Shir-dar, Tilla-Kari and Ulug-Bek. The medresse 
Shir-dar, which occupies the eastern side of the square, is said 
to have been built about 1648, by Yalang 'Jash Bahadur, an 
Uzbek hero, vizier of Imam Kuli Khan, from the spoils of the 
shrine of Imam Riza at Mashad. The front contains two stories 
of cells, with arched windows on the square, on both sides of a 
large arched portal. On each corner are cupolas surmounted by 
melon -shaped domes. The sides of the medresse have no 
windows, and both front and sides are covered with inlaid tiles. 
Passing through the portal we come to a large court around which 
are the cells, 64 in number, for two students each. Even at the 
late day when this was constructed, the Persian architectural 
style prevailed, and though Samarkand was then independent of 
Persia, the upper corners of the portal over the arch are filled 
with rude representations in blue and yellow tiles of the lion and 
the sun, the Persian arms, although in fact the lion is far more 
like a tiger. Those mosaics have evidently given the medresse 
its name of Shir-dar, lion-bearing. In front of the building is a 
square raised platform, on one corner of which is a small conical 
tomb, like an ant-hill, where I frequently saw lighted candles 
and other votive offerings. On the opposite side of the square 
is the medresse Ulug Bek, built by the sovereign of that name 
about 1420, but one story high and containing only twenty- 
four rooms. It is now in a very ruinous state, though once the 
home of mathematics and astronomy. At each corner there is 
a large minaret about 150 feet high, which seems to lean, 
though this is an optical delusion, as, one side of the tower is 
perpendicular, and the other is at an angle, and it is possible 
to get a point of view where it appears perfectly erect. 
Added to this, the sides of the portal are not parallel to each 
other, which increases the illusion. During the siege of the 
Russians in the fortress, a mullah did very good service with a 
falconet from one of these towers. After General Kaufmann 
returned, a mullah was brought before him as the guilty party, 
and his immediate execution was ordered. It is difficult to see 
why, especially without trial. On the north side of the square 


is the medrcsse Tilla-Kari, built like Shir-dar by Yalang-Tash. 
The exterior, with its large arched portal and domes and 
corner minarets and two stories of windows, is in ruins, but the 
court is in a better state of preservation, and it is on the whole 
one of the finest. On the left side of the court is the mosque. 
The pulpit has very handsome carved wooden steps, and the 
space about the hibleh is covered with rich gilt ornament, 
which seems to be gold foil under a thin layer of transparent 
enamel. It is probably from this that the medresse is called 
Tilla,-Kari, or gold covered. 1 

On the top of a slight hill to the south of the fortress, is the 
most interesting monument of Samarkand, the Gur'-Amir, or 
tomb of Timur. It is an eight-sided building, surmounted by 
a melon-shaped dome, and with two ruined minarets. Passing 
through a broken mosaic portal and a court, we come to the 
steps leading into the mosque. Over the gates is an inscrip- 
tion in Persian : ' The weak slave Mohammed, son of Mahmoud, 
from Isfahan, built this.' The inside of the dome is full of the 
usual alabaster work, and the walls are covered with hexagonal 
plates closely set together of finely carved transparent gypsum, 
which is often supposed to be jasper. On the side turned to 
Mecca there is a pillar and a large ancient standard with 
floating horse-tail. The tombstone of Timur occupies the exact 
centre of the mosque, and is a slab of greenish black stone, six 
feet long, fifteen inches wide and about fourteen inches thick, 
which is flat on the top and not pyramidical as has been repre- 
sented. It has been broken or cut in the middle into two 
parts, and one of the lower corners has been broken off and 
subsequently polished down, as is shown by a part of the inscrip- 
tion being missing. Around the edge is a very complicated 
inscription in antique letters, giving Timur's name and titles, 
together with those of all his ancestors, and the date of his 
death, 807 (1405). To the right of this slab is another of 
grey marble, of nearly the same size, with an inscription show- 
ing that it is the tomb of Mirza Ulug Bek, grandson of Timur, 
who died in 853 (1449). The back and part of the top are 
covered with plaster. On the other side of Timur's tomb, is a 
grey marble slab in memory of Abdullatif Mirza, son of Ulug 

1 Literally, covered with tillas, or gold coins. 



Bek, who died in 854 (1450). There are slabs to three other 
sons of Ulug Bek ; and beside these, between the tomb of Timur 
and the standard, is a grey marble slab dedicated to Mir Seid 
Belki Sheikh, the teacher of Timur, who died two years after 
him. The walls of the mosque are covered with various in- 
scriptions, some texts from the Koran, and others religious 


verses ; while in the adjoining room was one which my mullah 
translated to me as meaning, ' If I were alive people would not 
be glad,' without date or name. Passing into this room on the 
left of the main mosque we went down a narrow staircase into 
the vault below, and found the tombs of Timur and his des- 
cendants placed exactly under the slabs above. The tombs are 


beneatli the ground, and nothing is visible but slabs of grey 
marble covered with complicated inscriptions. The vault 
itself, which is of a very wide span, is of light grey burnt 
brick, and is still in a perfect state, being a beautiful piece of 
workmanship. This mosque, and even the tombs, were found 
in a very dilapidated condition by the Eussians on their occu- 
pation, and it is owing to them that repairs have been made 
and everything put in order, and a guardian appointed to the 
mosque. The beautiful carved stone railing which surrounds 
the monument in the upper room, was found badly shattered, 
but has now been completely restored. In a small building 
near by are the tombs of Timur's wives. 

The citadel contains several mosques and tombs, of which 
one with a very beautiful melon-shaped dome is dedicated to a 
local saint Kutf-i-Tchirdani, and is noticeable from the fact that 
the mosaic inscription running round the dome is, for the sake, 
of symmetry in the letters, merely the beginning of the great 
article of faith repeated over and over again, the words being 
' La Allah, La Allah, La Allah,' (' There is no (rod, there is no 
(rod '). Pious Mussulmans, however, supply the rest, never once 
thinking that the inscription seems profane. 

In the citadel is also the former palace of the Amir, con- 
taining the famous kok-tash, now used as a Eussian military 
hospital, an insignificant building of unburnt bricks covered 
with clay. 

The court, which was used by the Amir on all occasions of 
ceremony, is enclosed on three sides by a verandah raised three 
or four feet above the ground. All is very simple and plain. 
The slim rudely carved wooden Columns support a brick cornice. 
In the middle is a large octagonal stone three or four feet high, 
with a square top, in which is a cylindrical hollow, perhaps a 
water-basin, but looking for all the world like a baptismal 

The k tk-tash, which is placed on the verandah opposite the 
entrance, is an oblong block of whitish-grey marble, polished 
at the top, carved in arabesques on the sides, and with small 
pilasters at the corners. It is ten feet four inches long, four 
feet nine inches wide, and two feet high, without the base of 
brick and plaster nine inches high, on which it stands. It 
has been common to speak of this stone as a blue or green 


stone, the word kok usually meaning one of those colours, and 
Lehmann (if it be not a remark of the editor) in his travels 
speaks of the stone as being of lapis lazuli, evidently from 
hearsay. Kok however is an indeterminate word for colour and 
even means grey, as in the sport of kok-bHra, ' grey wolf.' The 
term might thus be applicable to marble. It is probable that 
the name of this stone had another origin. Baber speaks of 
the palace which Timur constructed in the citadel of Samar- 
kand as being stately, and four stories high, and famous by the 
name of kok-sarai, just as the palace of Timur in Kesh was 
called ak-sarai, or ' white palace.' The kok-sarai, Baber says, 
4 is remarkable on this account ; that every prince of the race 
*>f Timur who is elevated to the throne, mounts it at this place, 
and so one who loses his life for aspiring to the throne loses it 
here. Insomuch that this has passed into a common expres- 
sion, that such a prince has been condemned to the kolc-sarai, a 
hint which is perfectly well understood to mean that he has 
been put to death.' The kok-tash, we are told, served as the 
foundation for the throne of Timur, and probably received its 
name from being the famous stone which was in the kok-sarai. 
The elevation of the sovereign on the kok-tash passed into a 
custom, and a legend arose that the stone had fallen from 
Heaven, and would not allow a false Khan, or one not of genuine 
descent, to approach it; and as late as 1722, in the rebellion 
against Abul Feiz Khan, the complaint was made that he had 
never fulfilled the formality of sitting on the kok-tash, and the 
rebels proclaimed in his place Rejen Khan, who was consecrated 
in the usual manner. When the Russians took the city, there 
was a decorated slab of hard plaster which formed a back to this 
stone and made it appear like a throne. This, which has now 
fallen off, and rests against the wall of the building, is evidently 
of very recent date. The Russians have erected a neat and 
ornamental bronze railing about this stone to keep it from 
injury. Behind the stone itself is a large arched niche, deco- 
rated with alabaster in the prevailing style, and on one side of 
this is affixed an oval piece of metal looking like half of a cocoa- 
nut ; this bears an Arabic inscription, showing that it had once 
marked the tomb of a saint. The inscription runs : * This is the 
tomb of the Sheikh Imam, the Hermit Hodja Akhmet Rodoveri 
Tshak El Khivi. May Heaven forgive him and his parents and all 


Mussulmans who have died. Dated the 22nd day of the month 
Mobarrem in the year 550 (1155) of the hejra of Mohammed.' 
There are other remains of the flourishing era of Samarkand 
in the suburbs of the city. Among them is the Ishrat-Khana, 
said to have been built by Timur's wife for her tomb, but which 
was turned into a palace on account of a sudden embrace which 
he gave her on seeing it, so impressed was he by its beauty. The 
finest of these ruins is the mosque of Hodja Akhrar, a large 
square building, with a lofty portal and arched doorway, still re- 
taining its mosaic tiling in very good preservation. The Persian 
lions appear again here over the archway. Inside of the court are 
the rooms for students, and opposite the entrance a good sized 
mosque, where, at the time of our visit, we found the pupils and 
their teachers reciting the evening prayers. Beyond this is a 
large garden, as well as a cemetery, where rest the remains of 
Hodja Akhrar himself, once celebrated not only for his sanctity, 
but for his immense wealth. According to tradition, Hodja 
Akhrar lived about 400 years ago in Tashkent, and was 
originally named Ubeidullah, but was called Akhrar (conse- 
crated to God) from his piety. He devoted himself to religion 
from early youth, and became a member of the religious order 
of Nakshbendi, and, after the death of the Pir, its head. It is 
said that when several of the younger brethren were making 
their pilgrimage to Mecca, one found himself in Rum, and 
cured the Khalif of a great disease by prayer and by reading a 
benediction which his master had given him. In gratitude the 
khalif offered him anything he liked to choose, and he asked 
for the Koran of Othman, the third Khalif, which was preserved 
in the Khalif's treasury. This Koran was said to have been 
written by Othman himself ; and he was engaged in reading it 
in his house when he was murdered, and his blood spurted over 
the book, where traces of it still remain. The Khalif was 
obliged to fulfil his promise, and the celebrated Koran was 
taken to Tashkent, where it added still more to the celebrity 
of the saint. Subsequently Hodja Akhrar removed to Samarkand, 
taking the Koran with him, and after his death it was preserved 
in this mosque, lying on a large stone reading-table. It is a 
most beautiful manuscript, written entirely in Cufic characters 
upon parchment ; and when the Russians occupied Samarkand 
there was not a single learned native who was able to decipher it, 


Seeing the value which the Russians set on this relic, some of 
the fanatical mullahs thought to remove it to Bukhara, but 
this was forbidden by General Abramoff ; and the Imams of the 
mosque of their own accord offered to sell it for 125 rubles, 
saying that before it had brought them in money, because 
people came and paid for the privilege of kissing and touching 
it, but as this woidd no longer be done they might as well 
dispose of it. The money was accordingly given, and the 
Koran is now in the Imperial Public Library at St. Petersburg. 
The bazaar of Samarkand is comparatively insignificant, 
much smaller than those at Tashkent and Hodjent, although 
large enough for the 30,000 inhabitants that Samarkand now 
contains. The chief portions of the old bazaar are the Timi, 
a large octagonal covered building, where the smaller things 
are sold, and one or two wooden houses for silk and cotton 
goods. Besides Hindoos and Jews, there were many Afghans 
to be seen there, and it was not an uncommon thing to meet 
Dervishes, or Kalendar, as they are there called. They are 
permitted to frequent the city and to ask for alms, though 
they are forbidden to preach or to recite prayers. I went one 
morning with my Mullah to the Kalendar Khana, situated 
just outside one of the gates. This, which belongs to one of 
the few orders of Dervishes remaining at Samarkand, is a large 
garden containing one or two mosques, and a number of small 
cells. We found some seven or eight wretch ed-hx king devotees, 
and an paying our respects to their Pir or chief, %na accepting 
the tea which he offered us, they proposed to sing. It was, 
however, some little time before a sufficient number for j 
chorus could be collected, as many of them were in tlie town 
and the rest were lying asleep in different parts of the garden, oi 
were half stupid from smoking nasha, or hemp. Finally several 
of them were induced to appear, and after taking a friendly 
pipe of nasha together, to give them the necessary inspiration, 
they donned their oldest robes of rags, slung their wallets over 
their shoulders, and put on the high conical caps, which are a 
requisite to their religious toilette. They then stood in a row 
and began to sing, now in Persian, and now in Turki. The 
chant was not unmelodious. One or two lines were sung by 
the leader, and then the whole band broke out into the refrain. 
As they warmed up, they went faster and faster, and the leader 
vol. I. s 


however much he might strain his voice, was almost inaudible 
on account of the cries of the others, who, without waiting for 
the response, sang, or rather shouted, continually. Their song, 
in praise of the founder of their order, ran something like this : 

A wild beast cries in the waste : Thou Mighty One ! 

(Refrain) God, our friend ! 
Than Thee there is no other, 

God, our friend ! 
We have no other protector than Thee, 

0" God, our friend! 
Our head is Nakshband Duvana, 

God, our friend ! &c. &c. 

When we were tired of one hymn, another was begun, and 
finally they started one very wild and quick, with numerous 
boundings, prostrations and whirlings, but the exercises, except 
those of the voice, were by no means violent. Fanatics as they 
were, they made no objection to exhibiting before me, as they felt 
sure of a sillau, or present, at the end, and they made no scruple 
about accepting the offered money. The whole affair, as they 
themselves very well know, is a comedy played for lucre. There 
are few of them that trouble themselves about piety or religion, 
except so far as it can be made profitable. When I was about to 
go, the chief addressed me a petition, saying that this estab- 
lishment of Dervishes had been founded long ago for pious uses; 
mat it was devoted to the reception of the poor, the sick, and 
the blind, and of persons who had no other refuge, and that 
the only means they had to support it was by taking con- 
tributions from the faithful throughout the city. They begged 
me therefore to represent to the authorities the religious and 
charitable objects they had in view, and to request that they 
might be allowed as before to recite their prayers and to preach 
their sermons in public. I replied that I had heard that this 
^as prohibited because many of them had been in the habit 
f inveighing against the Kussians, and of preaching hatred and 
"lostility to the infidel. This they denied vigorously, saying 
that they had no ill feeling whatever to the Kussians, who 
treated them well. I told the Prefect afterwards of the request 
which they had preferred, and which he was not at all astonished 
to hear ; but he said, that, however they might deny it, instances 
of thf-ii treasonable language were only too well proved, because 

THE JEWS. 259 

officers frequently, in passing by unobserved, had heard parts of 
their sermons, which usually consist of the narration of some 
old legend where the people were enslaved by the infidel on 
account of their irreligious life and practices, and end with an 
appeal to repentance, saying that thus the infidel may be 
driven away. Islam is frequently depicted under the form of 
a white she-camel which is •ppressed by a heathen tribe. 

Not the least interesting of the inhabitants of Samarkand 
are the Jews, who, under the rule of the Kussians, have here 
at least equal rights with the rest of the population. In old 
times they were obliged to live in a separate quarter, to which 
indeed they now chiefly keep, and were forbidden to ride within 
the city walls, or to wear any other girdle than a rope. Such 
is the contempt of Mussulmans for the Jews that they do not 
think them even good enough for slaves. Having expressed a 
wish to buy some antiquities, a Jew one day presented himself 
to me with some Greek coins and engraved gems. He was in 
his way a curiosity. He was the son of Mamun, a noted Hebrew 
dealer in lapis lazuli at Bukhara, who befriended Dr. Wolff 
when he was there to inquire into the murder of Stoddart and 
Connolly. He and his father went to India on a trading ex- 
pedition, and then resolved to go to Europe ; but in order to do 
so they were obliged at Bombay to make themselves British 
subjects, and to take out British passports. After staying for 
more than a year in London, the father returned to Bukhara, 
where he now is, while the son went to Paris, where he remained 
three or four years, and then found his way to Samarkand. He 
speaks English fairly, and French very well. It was amusing 
to see him in his little Paris coat a thorough European 
among his countryman in their caps and long gowns. The 
Jews shave their heads, as do the Mussulmans, leaving two long 
locks on the temples, curled if possible, and in other respects 
adopt the native dress. Mamun offered to take me into the 
Hebrew quarter, and one morning we started off together. We 
went first to the new synagogue, which was built by a rich Jew 
named Mushti Kalanter. On each side of a broad portico was 
a large room with a desk for the Rabbi, simply but prettily deco 
rated. In the back were a number of pigeon-holes, where were 
placed the rolls of the law, none of them of great antiquity. 
The Rabbi and his assistant were engaged in teaching two 

s 2 


classes of bright and merry children in smaller adjoining 
rooms. The Rabbi, a very intelligent man, had come there 
from Morocco in the old Bukharan times, for even then a 
synagogue existed, although concealed with the greatest care 
fiom the eyes of the authorities. From the synagogue we went 
to the house of Kalantar, and we sat for a long time in the 
garden under the trees, while a pretty girl with unveiled face 
picked and brought us bunches of fresh roses. It was only 
after some time that Kalantar himself, a venerable man with a 
grey beard, came in and took tea with us. The Jewesses, 
though unveiled at home, have their faces covered in the 
street like the Mussulman women, to avoid disagreeable and 
insulting remarks. 

I made the acquaintance at Samarkand of Abdur Rahman 
Khan, the former ruler of Afghanistan and the nephew of Shir 
Ali, the present Amir. Dost Mohammed Khan left sixteen 
sons, and on his death there was much contention for the 
succession, until finally Shir Ali succeeded in establishing 
himself at Kabul, and was recognised as the lawful Amir by 
the Indian authorities. Several of the brothers, however, were 
unwilling to submit to him, and raised rebellions ; among these 
was Afzul Khan, or rather, his son Abdur Rahman Khan, for 
Afzul himself played but a passive part in the struggle. On 
being ordered to come to Kabul, Abdur Rahman Khan fled for 
refuge to Bukhara, while his father was immediately imprisoned 
by the angry Shir Ali. This was in the end of November 
1864. The next spring there was another rebellion. Azim 
Khan rose in insurrection, but was defeated by Shir Ali, and 
driven to Kandahar. Abdur Rahman Khan then collected 
some Bukharan troops and appeared in Afghanistan with great 
success. He gained possession of Balkh, and moved directly 
on Kabul, which was given up to him ; and on March 1, 1866, 
he entered into the city and freed his father from imprisonment. 
Shir Ali was beaten twice more, and at the end of 1867 fled to 
Herat. The conflict continued for two years more. Afzul 
Khan died, and Abdur Rahman Khan was proclaimed Amir. 
Finally Kabul was taken in 1868 ; Abdur Rahman Khan and 
Azim Khan were thoroughly defeated, and fled to Mashad. 
In July 1869, Abdur Rahman Khan sent messengers to 
Samarkand to ask if he could be allowed to seek a refuge 


in the Russian territory, and was answered that if he could go 
nowhere else he would be permitted to come. He accordingly 
arrived in Tashkent in March 1870, and was well received. 
The Russian Government allows him about 25,000 rubles a 
year, and insists on his remaining in Samarkand. He has 
several times asked for permission to go to St. Petersburg, but 
it has always been refused. About four years ago he asked 
General Kaufmaun to give him 100,000 rubles, saying that 
with that he would be able to raise an insurrection against 
Afghanistan, which he hoped would turn out to his profit. 
This sum General Kaufmann refused to grant him, saying that 
the Russians did not wish to be mixed up with the affairs of 
Afghanistan. As, however, he lives very quietly in the Amir's 
garden in Samarkand, and can hardly spend, even with all his 
messengers and secret correspondents, more than 5,000 rubles 
a year, he must now have nearly enough to prepare the pro- 
posed expedition. 

I was very desirous of seeing him, and accordingly sent him 
word asking wheiv I could call. He replied that he w r ould do 
himself the honour of coming to me first, and appointed the 
next day. About one o'clock a messenger came in, and said that 
the Afghan Prince was on his way. With the respect due, even 
to fallen royalty, we of course went to the door to receive him. 
Abdur Rahman Khan is a tall well-built man, with a large 
head, and a marked Afghan, almost Jewish, face. He wears 
long locks of hair at the side, and a full, curly black beard. 
He carries himself with much dignity, and every movement 
denotes a strong character, and one accustomed to command. 

He was dressed in a semi-military dress — a long dark caftan 
ornamented with wide silver galloon, and frogs of silver braid, 
with a highly-wrought silver belt, and silver mounted sabre. 
On his head he had a white turban striped with blue. Our 
conversation was naturally chiefly about Afghanistan, and the 
Prince had much to say about the reports which were then rife, 
that an army had been sent by Shir Ali to Seistan. He was 
unwilling to believe the story that Iskender Khan, now living 
in England, had made peace with Shir Ali, and had been put 
in command of the expedition. Another report had just then 
reached us that the English were making an attack upon Herat, 
3.nd we were even told the numbers of troops which had been 


despatched from Shikarpur and other points on the Indus. 
Abdur Rahman explained that this would be impossible without 
previous operations on the Persian Gulf, of which we would 
inevitably have heard, and asking for a pencil and sheet of 
paper, drew a rough outline map of Afghanistan and the roads 
leading from India to Kabul, Herat, and Kandahar. His con- 
versation was interrupted from time to time, according to 
Eastern custom, with enquiries after the health of the persons 
to whom he was talking, and good wishes for them. Although 
usually reserved, he was very ready to talk with me, and while 
saying nothing especially ill of Shir Ali, plainly showed his 
enmity to him. He spoke of the story that Shir Ali had 
forbidden his name to be mentioned in Kabul under pain of 
death, laughingly saying that it would not much matter, 
because people would only think twice as much of him. He 
felt sure that he need only declare himself to have the popula- 
tion entirely on his side, because Shir Ali was detested by all 
the Afghans for his complaisance towards England. I asked 
him if the subsidy given to Shir Ali by the English had any 
effect upon the feelings of the Afghans. He said to make them 
well-disposed to England it had no effect at all, though it 
possibly might have an effect upon Shir Ali personally. If the 
English were to give Afghanistan the whole revenues of India, 
the people would not love the English the better. I then asked 
him whether, in case of a war between any other country and 
England, an attack were made on India, the Afghans would be 
willing to join in it. He said that if word were given to the 
Afghans that an attack was to be made against the English in 
India, and they were convinced the war was not against India, 
but against the English domination there, they would willingly 
join in it without any subsidy, or the necessity of much urging. 
During his stay in Samarkand he had learned consider- 
able Russian, so that he occasionally answered questions 
without waiting to have them put into Persian for him; 
once notably to the confusion of the friend who was interpret- 
ing for me, as my question was one which did not exactly 
please him, and he was unwilling to translate it literally. 
The Prince stayed with me for over an hour, and on taking 
leave said that he would send to me when he would be able to 
receive me, but I never heard any more from him, and on my 


subsequent visits to Samarkand I did not see him. I was told 
that he was living so quietly and economically that he did not 
wish to show his household arrangements to strangers. He 
does not seem to be quite contented with his treatment by the 
Russian authorities, who certainly do not use him as a tool foi 
intrigue. He said once, rather bitterly, that the first time he 
came to Tashkent a carriage of the Governor-General was 
placed at his disposition, that on his second visit he had an 
ordinary carriage, but that when he came the third time he was 
left to go a-foot. 

Tne Russian occupation of Central Asia has brought to 
light many adventurers, chiefly Russians, who had fled from 
Siberia, or from Orenburg, and had played various parts in the 
native States. Some such men are still in Bukhara and Kho- 
kand, while others made their peace with the Russian authori- 
ties and remained in the districts occupied. 

Of one of these men I had heard much, but unfortunately 
he died of the cholera before my arrival at Samarkand. He 
was a Pole of the name of Gerburt von Fulstein, who, when 
quite a young man, had for some political offence been sent 
to Orsk. 

At this time there was great commotion among the Kirghiz, 
and there was much talk about the son of the Sultan Sanjar, 
who, it was said, had been carried off by the Russians and 
educated by them. Gerburt was surrounded on the road by 
a party of Kirghiz, who immediately professed to recognise 
him as the missing man, and took him with them into the 
Steppe and finally to Turkistan. The Khan of Khokand had 
married a daughter of Sultan Sanjar, and for greater surety she 
was admitted to see him, and immediately declared him to be 
her brother. He was then received in a manner befitting the 
Khan's relative, and was appointed Bek of Namangan. Here he 
led such a debauched and dissipated life, being constantly 
drunk, that the Khan found it necessary to remove him and 
keep him with him. When the Amir of Bukhara took Khokand 
he carried Gerburt with him, and appointed him to a consider- 
able post at Court. He was in Samarkand when the Russians 
took it, and, on account of his acquaintance with the natives 
and their languages, was given a small position, where he made 
himself useful. In relating his story, he said that he was him- 


self at times confused to know whether he was really, a Pole 01 
a Kirghiz. 

An adventurer of a different kind was twice in Samarkand 
during my stay there. He gave himself "out as the Khan Zadeh 
Arash Kul, a Persian prince, who was desirous of proceeding to 
Bukhara for some business relating to his property. 

For some reason or other his conduct aroused suspicion both 
in Tashkent and Samarkand, and it was thought that he might 
possibly be a dealer in counterfeit money. He was not allowed 
to proceed to Katta Kurgan, on the ground that his road pass 
was only to Samarkand, and was turned back. He went back 
therefore as far as Jizakh, procured another road-pass to Katta 
Kurgan, and went directly there. The frontier at Katta Kurgan 
is very closely watched, and the Prefect is very particular about 
all suspicious characters. As this man had no letters from the 
authorities, orders were given that he should not be allowed to 
go to Bukhara, and all his efforts to run away at night were 
unsuccessful. After complaint was made against him that he 
had been living in the post-house for a long time to the dis- 
comfort of other travellers, he was ordered to leave the place. 
On returning, he abandoned his post-carriage at one station from 
Tashkent, and proceeding on foot, took another at one station on 
the other side, in order better to escape observation. When 
this was discovered suspicions against him were even stronger, 
but all traces of him had disappeared. A year after it turned 
out that he was a criminal named Babaef, who had been sen- 
tenced to Siberia for falsely assuming the title of Prince Grokt- 
chaiski. He suceeded in escaping from Eussia, but was arrested 
at Vienna and sent to Moscow, where he soon after died in prison. 

At Samarkand I made my first real acquaintance with the 
Russian soldier in Central Asia. Of course I had seen many at 
Tashkent and elsewhere, very frequently indeed drunk in the 
street ; but it was here that I first saw them in barracks in 
camp, at exercise, and at work. On my two later visits to 

Samarkand I lived with my friend T , in the camp, of which 

he was the Commander. This camp was situated outside of the 
walls, in several large gardens, the one we were in being that 
of the mosque called Namazga, used chiefly during the great 
festivals. In the centre was a large square pond, and by its 
side a grassy platform surrounded by high elm trees. Here our 

THE CAMP. 265 

tents — large, commodious, and well furnished canvas houses — 
were pitched, with the servants and kitchen in the rear ; while 
at a little distance on either side were long rows of barracks, 
with canvas roofs and sides — for here in summer it seldom if ever 
rains. The mosque was turned into a dining room and billiard 
saloon for the officers. Here we lived in the open air, looping 
up the sides of our tents to let the breeze through, and changing 
our rugs and cushions from one side of the pond to the other as 
the shade required. A new camp was then being made, further 
out on the plain, where the troops can drill and parade with 
more ease, but unfortunately the place is utterly bare of trees, 
although probably in two years there will be a grove imme- 
diately about the barracks, which are permanent, and built of 
unburned bricks. In different places through the town, soldiers 
could be seen at work digging clay, mixing it in water, stamp- 
ing it in moulds, and placing the bricks to dry in the sun. 
The soil is so peculiar here that such bricks may be made 
everywhere, and when a person wishes to build a wall about his 
garden, or even to erect a house, he either digs in his own 
grounds, or scoops a ditch along the side of the street for the 
required material. The warm climate demands a suitable 
uniform: and the soldiers here wear white cotton or linen blouses, 
and loose trousers of sheepskin, dyed crimson with cochineal or 
pomegranate juice, and tucked into their high boots. It is not 
only a picturesque uniform, but one well suited to the soldier; for 
his movements are entirely free, and he looks far more robust 
and manly than when he gets on his ill-fitting winter uniform, 
badly made of coarse dark cloth. 

I used to be waked up in the morning by the reveille of the 
drums and bugles ; and as soon as the tea-urn of my friend was 
seen on the table in the shade, and he was known to be up, the 
Serjeants brought in their reports. I went once to see the 
soldier's mess, and found everything very orderly, and the food — 
white bread and cabbage soup, or mutton broth — excellent. 

In the evening the battalion bands usually played, or the 
choruses of the soldiers sang ; for each battalion has its own 
chorus of select singers, who sing various songs, either com- 
posed by themselves, or written by some officer, celebrating the 
fights in which they have been engaged. Some of these songs 
are very spirited, and occasionally they speak more truth than 


pleases all of their commanders. At nine o'clock the songs 
always ended with the evening prayer, and after that there was 
quiet in the camp, though not necessarily sleep. The soldiers 
here lead an active enough life, and apparently a comfortable 
one. In their campaigns they certainly have shown great 
energy, and a wonderful capacity for enduring fatigue and 
hardship, and are always cheerful and good-natured. 

Once or twice a year those whose terms of service have 
expired are sent home with their wives and children at the 
Government expense, camels being provided for their transport. 
I saw the departure of one of these caravans on the night I 
myself left Tashkent. It was exceedingly amusing ; almost all 
the men were drunk, for had they not been taking leave of 
their comrades? and it was with great difficulty that their 
wives or some sober fellows were able to keep them on the un- 
even backs of the camels, where they lay or sat amidst the piles 
of luggage. Occasionally one fell off without seeming to be 
injured by the fall, and could with difficulty be re-seated. It is 
strange that no effort seems to be made to induce the soldiers 
and their wives to remain as colonists. Many would be glad 
to remain, at least for a time, but they are influenced by the 
privilege of free transportation home, of which they must 
avail themselves immediately, or not at all. 

The Eussian society of Samarkand is very small, and there 
are, as yet, very few new houses. A new quarter is, however, 
laid out on the further side of the citadel, in which streets and 
houses are gradually springing up. During my visits, this 
whole region was a scene of dust and confusion. There are 
but two or three merchants, and the population is made up of 
the officers and officials, and of the camp followers ; and as but 
two or three of the officers have wives, 'Eussian society is almost 
as masculine as that of the natives. In these remote regions 
the marriage ceremony is not regarded as of the utmost impor- 
tance, and society cannot afford to be too punctilious. 

It is impossible not to be struck with the difference be- 
tween the administration in Samarkand and that in Tashkent. 
Nearly all the officials seem to have at heart the welfare of the 
country, and to be earnest in their work. They are, for the 
most part, the remainder of what are called the • Tchernaief 
men,' many of them having been with that General in his first 


Central Asiatic campaign. General Abramof, the commander 
of the province, began as a sub-captain, but by his great 
bravery and dash in all his fights has succeeded in winning for 
himself the grade of Major-General with numbers of orders and 
1 decorations. He is a most active man, and knows well the 
whole of the country. I do not believe that there is a village 
under his rule which he has not visited. He endeavours to 
keep himself thoroughly informed of all that goes on, and, 
although his will in Samarkand is law, as the administrative 
regulations for the rest of Turkistan have never been applied 
to that province, he is most anxious to act always with justice, 
and in the spirit of the Eussian law. He is ably seconded in 
his administration by men who know well the people with 
.vhoin they have to deal. The Prefect of the city was, at that 
time, Captain Syrtlanof, a Mussulman gentleman of Bashkir 
origin, speaking Kirghiz, Turki, and Persian with great fluency. 
While I was living in his house I had an excellent opportunity 
of seeing the manner in which he administered the affairs of 
the city. The inhabitants were well pleased with him, not 
only because he was a Mussulman, but because he was able to 
listen himself to their complaints and to decide their disputes, 
and was, what is rare enough to deserve mention, thoroughly 
honest. Having at heart the interests of the population, he 
established in Samarkand an excellent public hospital, and was 
instrumental in founding there a school for Mussulman chil- 
dren, which is meeting with great success. So far it has 
attained the object of inducing many leading Mohammedans to 
send their children there for the purpose of learning Russian. 
Unfortunately both for the population and for the best interests 
of the Russian Government, Captain Syrtlanof is no longer 
there. The Governor-General got an idea into his head that 
he was a fanatic, and removed him. 




Urgut — Our idyl — A second visit — The mountain ranges — The glacier — The 
Upper Zarafshan — Kohistan — The petty Beks — Iskender Kul Expedition 
— Annexation — Small extent of arable land in Central Asia — Irrigating 
canals — Regulation of irrigation — Water supply of Bukhara — Methods of 
irrigation — Systems of husbandry — Rotation of crops — Cereals — Famines 
— Lack of statistics — Cotton — Gardens — Price of Land — Land tenure — 
Proposed land settlement — Land taxes. 

My friends at Samarkand urged me to prolong my stay for 
two or three days in order to visit Urgut — twenty miles oft 
in the mountains. Accordingly we made up a little party, 
and attended by a number of jig its, we started from Samarkand 
one bright afternoon. We drove through lanes made fragrant 
by the odour of caper plants, and by the spicy scent of the 
yellow-flowered Jidda, or wild olive, and after we had got 
clear of the gardens and fully into the plain, I found that my 
friend the Prefect had prepared a surprise for me in the shape 
of a baiga, the great national sport of Central Asia, known also 
by the name of kok-bura, or l grey wolf.' 

In an open field along the side of the road fifty horsemen 
were waiting, one of whom had a dead kid slung from 
his saddle bow. As we came along this man rode up to us 
and asked if we would like to see the sport. Of course we 
willingly assented, and we started off with everybody else 
in full pursuit. The object of the game was to succeed in 
bearing the kid away from its possessor and in bringing it up 
to me as the judge of the contest. Away they went, through 
canals and over the plains, up and down hill, sometimes for- 
wards sometimes backwards, the possessor of the kid skilfully 
dodging and h( lding on by main force to the animal with 


which he was charged. Men often approached him, but it 
was seldom that they could catch hold of the kid, and still 
more seldom that they could retain the hold sufficiently long 
to make a struggle. At one place, in order to get rid of his 
pursuers, Ish Jan — for such I believe was his name — had to 
plunge into a pond, or rather the enlargement of a canal, 
waere the water was much deeper and swifter than he had 
thought, and soon there were a dozen men there struggling 
and plunging, all up to the necks of their horses in water. All 
got out without accident and the kid was still safe, but just 
as Ish Jan was going up the bank one of the men, who had 
not plunged into the water and who was lying in wait, quickly 
pulled the now slippery animal away from him and brought it 
in triumph to my carriage, for which of course I had to give 
him a tenga and pass the animal on to another. The next 
time they went almost out of sight across the gravelly plain 
and rapidly returned with another as the victor. The sport lost 
much by not being played, as it should be, on a grassy steppe 
where the vista would be large enough to take in the whole 
position and with a throng of enthusiastic spectators on horse- 
back, but even as it was it was extremely exciting. I saw it 
again on the occasion of a Kirghiz feast, though at a long 
distance, but with my field-glass I was able almost to see the 
intense expression of the faces, and even then was so much 
interested that, although I was hastening on, I made my driver 
wait for nearly half-an-hour that I might look at the game. 
Fully a hundred men were surging backwards and forwards 
over a broad hill-side, their horses so close together that it 
seemed as if some of them must get smothered. Sometimes 
half a dozen separated from the rest, a struggle followed, one 
bearing the kid dashed off in triumph, when all rushed at him 
and the melee began again, reminding me then of nothing so 
much as of a good game of foot-ball. 

Since then I have seen polo played, a game of a similar nature. 
When I first saw it, Hurlingham, the royal guests, the ladies 
and the officers all faded away, and I was again on the steppes 
of Asia amid a throng of Uzbeks. 

After travelling about fifteen miles we came to a village, or 
rather a farm, called Yangy Kishlak (new village), belonging to 
one of tie native officials who accompanied us. He insisted that 


we should take some repose here, and we were conducted into 
a large garden where on the side of a square pond a kibitka 
had been erected, and where we found a bountiful lunch. 

The further we went the barer and more desolate and 
gravelly the valley became, and the nearer the foot hills of the 
great range seemed to us ; although even then Urgut was 
seen only as a black patch on the mountain side. As we 
approached, the black patch grew green and turned into a 
broad grove of trees, and soon the clay house-tops appeared 
amid the gardens. The road led for some distance along the 
shelving bank of a mountain stream, and at last over a stony 
plain which seemed almost the moraine of some old glacier. 

Under a large spreading tree surrounded by a platform 
of earth, about two miles from the town, we were met by the 
Kazi and various officials, who told us that every preparation 
had been made for us, and who accompanied us to the town. 

It was now getting quite dark, and as we entered Urgut 
the whole population met us in the street, all bearing lamps 
and torches to show us the way. We had expected to be 
obliged to leave our carriage long before and" to proceed on 
horseback, as we were told that the road was in a bad state, 
and we had sent on our horses in advance of us to Yangy 
Kishlak, but we found that the road was quite good, although 
very narrow and steep, and we were able to go beyond the 
town quite to the grove of tchinars, or Oriental plane trees, 
where we were to stop. Here were a mosque and the tomb of 
some local saint, as well as small huts for the devotees at 
this tomb. On a broad terrace in front of the mosque, and 
close to a running stream, two large kibitkas bad been 
erected for our accommodation, and a welcome supper was also 
spread out for us. It was very late, but the mountain air 
was so fresh and exhilarating, and so different from the sultry 
heat of the plain, that we were betrayed into lingering long in 
the starlight and felt for some time no inclination to sleep. 

The next morning we awoke to find ourselves in a beautiful 
shady retreat, with a fragrant scent coming down from the 
heavy branches of the plane trees. The mountain stream 
which ran past us was the clearest and purest that I had ever 
seen, and, as we found when we bathed in it, one of the coldest, 
but it put us into a nice glow. 


We were still at tea when the Aksakais of the city came to 
pay us their respects, and to ask if there was anything that 
we desired. We told them that we were anxious to see the 

town, and at once ordered our horses. T stayed at home, 

but M and I accompanied the Aksakais back to the town 

down the mountain road, whence we got a beautiful view 
over the valley of the Zarafshan, Samarkand and the hill of 
Tchupan-ata being at once recognisable in the distance. We 
passed the citadel, which was entirely in ruins and now un- 
inhabited, just as it had been left after it had been stormed by 
General Abramof, much, we presume, to the delight of the 
inhabitants, for in none of these cities did we find that they 
had loved their Beks too well. 

It was bazaar day, and the bazaar was crowded, not only 
with the inhabitants of Urgut, which is a town of 10,000 
people, but with men who had come there from the mountain 
Bekships, and even perhaps from Hissar and Karategin. The 
shopkeepers sitting in their stalls looked cool and comfortable 
in their robes of pink Eussian calico with roses and sprigs of 
mint stuck under their skull caps over their ears, w T hile the 
crowd of purchasers on horseback seemed sweltering in their 
heavy robes and sheepskins. They made way for us with their 
good natured smile of curiosity, as the Aksakais touched them 
with their whips, but the dust and the heat were so great that 
we soon left the bazaar, and asked for some place where we 
might rest. Going a little distance further along a small 
stream we were shown into a large garden, with a square pond 
in the middle, where there were a number of tea booths, and 
there in the shade of some tall elm and plane trees a carpet 
was spread for us at the side of the pond and a bright looking 
boy in a silk robe was quickly handing us bowls of green tea. 

We soon entered into conversation with some friends of the 
Aksakal who joined us, and we then found that the boy was 
a dancer as well as a tea-seller, and on hinting that we should 
have no objection to a little amusement, another boy was pro- 
duced, and soon three or four musicians appeared with their 
clumsy tambourines, at the first sound of which the garden 
began to fill, for every Asiatic is only too glad to find an 
excuse for pleasure. Shops were shut up, the bazaar became 
empty, and in a short time our garden was filled with eager 


spectators, who seated themselves in long rows all about the 
pond and covered even the tops of the walls and the roofs of 
the surrounding buildings. The sight was certainly very 
picturesque. One dance succeeded another ; occasionally beggars 
came for alms; and the crowd, perhaps to show their gratitude 
to us for the unwonted spectacle in the day time in such a 
crowded place, pelted us with roses. The hated heat of the 
sunny street, combined with the attractions of the spectacle, 
made us the more willing to linger, and two sr three hours 
elapsed before we were inclined to rise from our cushions 
under the elm trees, remount our horses, and go back to our 

When at last we started, we were respectfully accompanied 
half way up the mountain side by fully half the population, 
but no one was admitted to our garden save our immediate 
attendants and Madamin, the son of the chief Aksakal, a boy 
of about sixteen, with an immense pair of boots on his feet, 
which his father had probably lent him in honour of the 
occasion, who lolled about wonderingly all day, and shyly began 
to make acquaintance with us just as we were about to leave. 
Later on we followed up the course of the brook under vines 
and creepers, and at last climbed the steep bare peak that stood 
out over us with its jutting crags, until on its top a wonderful 
vista of mountain and plain and river opened up to us. When 
we had filled our eyes and souls with the sight, we slowly 
descended the peak, mounted our horses, and bade good-bye 
to Urgut. We rode as far as Yangy Kishlak, where we found our 
carriages, which we had sent on earlier in the day, and late in 
the evening we were in Samarkand again, feeling gladdened and 
refreshed as though we had been in some far off unreal world. 

Once again I was in Urgut, on my return from Buk- 
hara, but this was a visit of state and ceremony, for I went 
with the General and a dozen officers, and we were escorted 
by a troop of Cossacks. This visit was in many respects 
hardly less interesting than the former, though very different. 
There were carpets and tents and banquets at the halting 
places, deputations met us at every mile, and by the time we 
reached the town we had formed a grand procession, the dust 
caused by which did not add much to our pleasure. We 
stayed in a different and larger grove, and had with us the 



General's kitchen and cooks, forming a great encampment, 
Here we stayed three days, devoting the morning to long- 
walks and mountain climbing, the afternoons to happy indolence 
and the evenings to talk and cards. The first day we were 
long kept from our dinner by the arrival of the deputations 
from the town and neighbouring villages bearing trays of 


sweets, nuts and fruit, and many written addresses. The visit 
of the Hindoos gave us perhaps the most pleasure, for apart 
from their interesting countenances and figures, with a delicate 
instinct of what would be pleasing to us, they brought us as their 
gift — a large sack of excellent potatoes. Each deputation, after 
it was received, retired a little distance and took seats on the 
ground, while the rest of the population gradually came up and 

VOL. I. t 


stood behind them This gave to our dinner a certain solemnity, 
for when one is closely watched by several thousand people, all 
preserving a profound silence, one eats as though one were per- 
forming a high function. We had with us on this trip two 
bright little boys, sons of the prefect of Tashkent, who, speak 
ing Turki, soon made acquaintance with the youth of Urgut, 
and easily persuaded them to accompany us on our hill-top 
excursions, show us all the curious places, and relate to us the 
legends of the neighbourhood, and delighted them by allowing 
them to fire off our pistols. 

The mountains on the side of which Urgut stands are 
prolongations of the great Alpine region of the Tian-Shan, 
which, forming the ranges of the Alai, collect into a sort of knot 
at Kok-su, between Khokand and Karategin, and a little to thr 
east of the meridian of the city of Khokand, that is long. 71° E. 
and then divide into three separate mountain ridges forming the 
watershed between the basins of the Syr Darya, the Zarafshan 
and the Amu Darya, to which the Eussians have now agreed 
to give the names of the Turkistan, the Zarafshan and the 
Hissar ranges. In spite of certain high peaks in the Turkistan 
range, the general elevation of the ground is toward the east 
and south until we reach the top of the Hissar range, the 
ground descending on the other side into the basin of the 
Amu Darya. Not only the valleys are at a higher level as 
we go east and south, but the mountain passes and the ranges 
themselves. The Turkistan range, which forms the northern 
side of the Zarafshan valley, extends from Kok-su nearly due 
west, until a little above Urmitan it separates into two branches, 
one following the river to a little below Penjakent, although 
continuing somewhat further as a slight elevation of ground, 
and finally reappearing as the Godun-tau or Ak-tau mountains 
some distance beyond Katta-Kurgan. The other branch goes 
more to the north-west, and, cut at Jizakh by the defile of 
Jalan-uta, continues in the Kara-tau or Nurata mountains in 
little ridges on the south-western boundary of the Kyzyl -Kum, 
until it disappears in the Bukan-tau, about long. 63° East. 1 
Some of the peaks in the eastern parts of this range are 

1 It is impossible to rely upon the native nomenclature of mountains, lakes, or 
rivers, in Central Asia, as frequently they have no names, or are known to different 
villages by different appellations. Those ranges of mountains »n which the snow 


estimated at 20,000 feet in height, but the highest measured 
are one near Paldorak of 15,000 feet, and another near the 
village of Tabushin of 14,500 feet. 

Of the twenty passes in this range east of Urmitan the 
two highest are Yany-sabak, which is 13,270 feet above the 
level of the sea, and that of Autchi at 11,200. 

The Zarafshan range, which forms the southern side of the 
Zarafshan valley, and separates it from the valleys of the Yagnau 
and the Kashka Darya, has a direction nearly due west, gradually 
lowering in height to Djam, where it terminates, reappearing a 
little later in the low range of Karnanand Kiz-bibi to the south 
of Ziaueddin and Kermineh. It is cut by three narrow and 
piecipitous denies, through which run the Fan Darya, the 
Kshtut Darya, and the Magian Darya, the three affluents of 
the Zarafshan. The most accessible pass from the valley of the 
Zarafshan to that of the Yagnau is that of Darkha, at a height 
of 13,000 feet. The range here varies from 12,000 to 15,000 
feet in height. The southern, or Hissar, range, starting from 
Kok-su, and separating the waters of the Zarafshan from the 
Surkh-ab and other affluents of the Amu Darya, has in general a 
south-westerly direction, ending in the neighbourhood of Khuzar. 
Several of the passes leading into Karategin are at an elevation 
of 12,000 feet, and the great Mura pass, near Lake Iskender 
Kul, is 12,200 feet above the sea. Many of the summits rise 
to a height of from 16,000 to 18,000 feet, and near the glacier 
of the Zarafshan still higher. In the branches of this range, 

lies for a long time are called AJc-tau, ' white mountains,' while others are called 
Kara-tau, or ' black mountains,' and if there be any diversity of colour they 
are Ala-fau, ' striped or mottled mountains.' This accounts for the constant 
reappearance of these names. In the same way lakes are frequently called Kara- 
kol or Kara-kul, ' black lake,' with no idea of referring to the colour of the water, 
but merely because any considerable body of standing water receives the epithet 
of black ; -while streams, especially rapid, clear streams, are named Ak-su, or 
1 white water.' In fact Ak-su is a common term for water in general, and a Kir- 
ghiz, in apologising for his hospitality, will frequently say that he has nothing 
to offer you but Ak-su, white water. Both Kara-kol and Ak-su are indefinite 
names for lake or river, and therefore their frequent appearance should be no 
puzzle to geographers. In this way explorers frequently put names on their maps 
through misunderstanding. I remember an amusing instance. A Russian officer 
in one of his journeys asked the name of a certain mountain ridge, and on repeating 
the question two or three times the native replied. Khudai-biladi (God knows!), 
and the Khudai biladi mountains were immediately put down in the officer's noto» 
book and appeared on his chart. 

T '2 


which near Magian and Kshtut seem to unite it with the 
Zarafshan, there is to the south of Magian the group of 
peaks, Sultan Hazret, over 15,000 feet in height, and in the 
meridian of Urmitan the peak Tchabdara, 18,300 feet. 

The general aspect of these mountains, the northern slopes 
of which are longer, less precipitous, and with more streams 
than the southern, is that of bare, rocky crags, above which are 
everywhere snowy summits, the snow line on the northern sides 
coming down to 11,000 feet, and on the southern sides receding 
to 1 3,000 feet. Very little vegetation is visible, and that little 
seems lost in the great extent of bare surface. The chief trees 
are juniper and cedar, the birch being found only near Lake 
Iskender-kul and in the Pasrut defile. Taran, a root used in 
tanning, and the fragrant sumbul are almost the only vegetable 
productions of value. Except along the upper regions of the 
Zarafshan and the Yagnau there are no mountain valleys, but the 
river courses are mere defiles and ravines, through which it is 
exceedingly difficult to pass. 

The Zarafshan takes its rise in a large glacier, situated 
about long. 70 deg. 32 min. E., at a height of 8,500 feet 
above the level of the sea. This glacier presents the form of 
a mountain of ice blocking up the valley of the river. Its 
length is about 35 miles. Baron Aminof, who ascended it, 
says that its surface, which rises and falls in a wide plain, 
is covered with stones and gravel, and full of cracks and 
pools. He was able to make only 200 paces in the course 
of an hour and a half, as at every step he was in danger of being 
crushed by large stones, which, in consequence of the melting 
of the surface, rolled down from every little eminence, bringing 
masses of gravel with them. Five miles was the extent of his 
view in an easterly direction, the glacier then turning to the 
south and being concealed by the neighbouring peaks. All the 
side ravines, not only of the glacier, but below it, are filled with 
smaller glaciers. 1 From this glacier the Zarafshan issues in a 

1 'Military-Topographical Sketch of the Mountain region of the Upper Zaraf 
shan,' (with an excellent map) by Baron Aminof, in Part iii. of ' Materials for the 
Statistics of Turkistan,' St. Petersburg, 1874. See also ' Geological Observations 
during the Zarafshan Expedition,' by D. K. Myshenkof, in the * Memoirs of the 
Imp. Russ. Geog. Soc. General Geography,' vol. iv. p. 267, St. Petersburg, 1871. 
1 Geographical and Statistical Information about the Zarafshan District,' by L. N. 
Sobolef, in 'Mem. Imp. Russ. Geog. Soc. Statistics,' vol. iv. p. 163, St Petersburg, 


strong stream seven yards wide. After taking in numerous 
small streams, its average width where it has one bed is twenty- 
one yards. Its length, including all its windings from its 
source to the village of Dashty Kazy, where the valley first 
begins to widen, about twenty miles above Penjakent, is 134 
miles, in which it falls 4,700 feet, or about 35 feet in a mile. 
During the winter the river becomes shallow, and where the 
current is slow becomes covered with a thin crust of ice, which 
is not strong enough, however, to bear a man. The river is 
subject to three risings ; in early spring and autumn from the 
rains, and in the summer from the melting snow, during which 
it rises from ten to fifteen feet. Near Varsaminor it receives 
its largest affluent, the Fan Darya, which is formed by the Yag- 
nau Darya, 1 a stream rising in a glacier about long. 69 deg. 30 
min. E., and flowing parallel with the Zarafshan until it is met by 
the Iskender Darya, a small stream flowing out of the mountain 
lake Iskender Kul. This lake, which is at an elevation of 6,770 
feet above the sea, was found to be of far less importance than 
had been supposed, being only five or six miles in circumference. 
At 340 feet above there is evidently what was the previous 
level, from which, owing to some volcanic disturbance at least 
a century ago, the lake has sunk. The only fish found in 
this lafce is the Barbus fluviatilis, well known for its poisonous 
roe. At one end of the lake is a fine waterfall, and the whole 
surroundings are wonderfully picturesque. It was first visited 
by Lehmann, who called it Kul-kalian (large lake). The name 
of this lake, as well as the descent which the petty mountain 
princes of the upper Amu Darya claim from Alexander, show 
the permanence of the traditions about the great Macedonian 
conqueror. These legends are, however, most vivid far up 
in the mountain valleys among the Galtchas ; in the plains 
they are overlaid and replaced by stories about Tamerlane or 
about Mussulman saints. With regard to Lake Iskender Kul, 
there is a legend in Bukhara that once the site of that city was 
a marsh overflowed by the Zarafshan. Alexander, wishing to 
drain it, went to the source of the river, and shut it up with a 
golden dam, thus forming the lake called after him, and making 
the valley habitable. The water, however, rubs off particles of 

Written also Yagnauh -ind Yagna&ab. 


gold, which are found in the river, and give it the name of 
Za-rafshan (gold-strewing). This golden dam, the Bukharans 
say, is inaccessible, for it is guarded by a race of centaurs ; 
water-spirits also entice into the lake and drown all who come 
to it. The Kshtut and Magian are small mountain streams, 
afB uents of the Zarafshan, flowing nearly north. 

This mountainous region, which is known under the name 
of Kohistan (mountain country), is inhabited chiefly by Tadjiks 
or Galtchas, who have from time to time been driven from the 
valleys by the influx of the Uzbeks. But one eighty-fifth of 
the whole extent of territory is cultivated and settled, and yet 
36,000 people live in wretched villages, and manage to procure 
for themselves a scanty subsistence by cultivating the soil and 
by pasturing their flocks on the mountain sides. The valleys 
are so narrow that it is difficult to irrigate them; the rain-lands 
are of small extent, and insufficient grain is raised for the needs 
of the population, the remainder being brought from Ura-tepe, 
Penjakent, and Hissar. During the summer the people abandou 
their habitations, and go to the still more elevated mountain 
regions, where there is good pasture for their sheep and goats. 
Horses are rare, asses being used for burden. The acquaintances 
made during the pasturing season of summer are not interrupted 
by the difficult communications over the mountain ranges, and 
there are villages separated by passes 13,000 feet high, where 
all the inhabitants are connected with one another by ties of 
blood or of marriage. Besides the flocks of the inhabitants, 
many wild sheep and goats are to be found, as well as bears, 
wolves, and foxes. The most common game is a species of 
mountain partridge, which is found in the other ranges of the 
Tian-Shan and also in the Himalayas. The naturalist Fedtchenko, 
in speaking of these and other birds, as well as of certain fish 
and plants which are found everywhere in the Tian-Shan, and of 
which the same or similar species are also found in the Hima- 
layas, states that the result of his studies points to a relationship 
between the fauna and flora of the highest mountain systems of 
Asia, and leads us to suppose that here is a natural zoographical 
region. On the Yagnau and the Fan Darya there are large de- 
posits ot iron-ore and of coal. Gold is found in insignificant 
quantities in the Zarafshan, and only the poorest class of the 
population try to work it. Four men in a day can wash out, 


under favourable circumstances, an amount worth 60 kopeks, 01 
Is. Id. Alum is obtained in some of the villages on the Fan 
in much greater quantities, four men in three months being able 
to work out 1,800 lbs., worth on the spot from 221. to 27£., 
for which they were formerly each obliged to pay certain dues 
to their Beks. Silver, which is found on the upper Fan, was a 
monopoly of the Bek, who collected the inhabitants three times 
a year to work it. 

Politically, up to 1870, Kohistan was divided into the seven 
bekships of Farab, Magian, Kshtut, Fan, Yagnau, Matcha, and 
Falgar, which were nominally subject to Bukhara, but were 
secured from the interference of that government in their affairs 
by the payment of a small tribute. Magian, Kshtut, and 
Farab, always more or less acknowledged the supremacy of 
Urgut, the Beks of which (Uzbeks of the tribe Ming) had long 
before succeeded in making themselves nearly independent 
and in maintaining the right of hereditary succession. In the 
early part of this century the Amir of Bukhara, Seid Mir 
Haidar, subdued Urgut and sent its ruler, Yuldash Parma- 
natchi, to Bukhara, where he died in prison. Magian, Farab, 
and Kshtut, then gave in their submission to Bukhara. In 
subsequent troubles, Katta Bek, one of the sons of Yuldash, 
established himself in Urgut and placed his brother, Sultan 
Bek, in Magian and Kshtut. He was driven out by Mir 
Haidar, but in a subsequent rebellion he not only re-established 
himself but even tried to get possession of Samarkand. De- 
feated in this, he made peace by giving his daughter in 
marriage to Nasrullah, the eldest son of the Amir, and was 
allowed to retain his hereditary dominions as a fief. In the 
troubles attending the accession of Nasrullah, Katta Bek 
succeeded in having his hereditary right to the country ac- 
knowledged, and on his death his sons entered peaceably upon 
the government. 

During Nasrullah's long reign affairs continued in this 
peaceful condition ; but shortly before his death he called these 
Beks to Samarkand, arrested them, and sent them with their 
families to Tchardjui — where the greater part of them died — 
and appointed new beks to the mountain districts. One of the 
younger men, Hussein Bek, soon succeeded in escaping from 
his exile, and took refuge in Khokand and subsequently in 


Shahrisabs. When, after the capture of Samarkand the Buk- 
haran Beks ran away from the mountains, Hussein Bek took 
possession of Urgut, and, being driven from there by the Russian 
troops, fled to Magian, where he established himself and re- 
called his brother Shadi and his cousin Seid, and appointed 
them rulers in Kshtut and Farab. 1 The annals of Eastern 
Kohistan are full of the internecine struggles of the various 
chiefs, of occasional visits of Bukharan emissaries for the forci- 
ble collection of tribute, and of incursions from the neighbouring 
countries on the other side of the mountains. The memory is 
still green of one Bek of Falgar, Abdush Kur Datkha, who in 
the beginning of the present century united all the distiicts 
under his rule and built roads and bridges through some of 
the hitherto inaccessible defiles. During the reign of Mir 
Haidar, Bukharan Beks were established and forts were built, 
but the country was again nearly forgotten until towards the 
end of the reign of Nasrullah. When the Bukharan Beks had . 
all run away after the capture of Samarkand, the country was 
for a time left without rulers, and then Abul Gaffar, the 
former Bek of Ura-tepe, occupied Urmitan and made himself 
Bek of Falgar. The inhabitants of Matcha turned to Mozaffar 
Shah of Karategin, who sent there his nephe>v Rahim Khan. 
He drove Abul Gaffar out of Falgar, defeated Shadi Bek of 
Kshtut, who had come to its assistance, and after subduing the 
provinces of Yagnau and Fan, made an expedition against 
Hissar ; but before he had reached the stronghold of that 
country his troops rebelled and drove him from the throne, 
choosing in his place a native named Patcha Hodja. The 
Falgarians, who considered themselves more civilised and 
superior in every way to the inhabitants of Matcha, recalled 

1 I have already spoken of some of those Beks on page 87. Perhaps the 
following genealogical table may prove useful. 

Yuldash Parmanatchi (Bek of Urgut) 


Katta Bek (Urgut) Sultan Bek (Magian and Kshtut) 
I . 


| I 

Adil Parmanatchi (Urgut) Allayar Datkha (Magian) 

I _J 

I I I 

ussein Bek Shadi Bek Mussa Bek Seid Bek 

(Magian) (Kshtut) (Farab) 


Abul Gaffar, but he was beaten and had to fly to Samarkand, 
where he gave himself up to the Kussians. The disordered 
state of the mountains, and the constant predatory incursions 
into the valleys occupied by the Kussians, were the chief causes 
of the so-called Iskender Kul Expedition in 1870, which had 
also the purpose of exploring the head waters of the Zarafshan, 
and which resulted in the permanent occupation of these 

This expedition, composed of two sotnias of Cossacks, a 
company of sharpshooters, a rocket battery, and a peloton of 
mountain guns, under the command of General Abramof, who 
was attended by several scientific officers, started from Samar- 
kand on May 7, and on the 12th occupied Urmitan, and on the 
21st Varsaminor, both in the bekship of Falgar, with the ac- 
quiescence and to the delight of the inhabitants, many of whom 
had previously fled to Samarkand, offering their submission 
and requesting to be delivered from the tyranny of the Bek of 
Matcha. This Bek, Patcha Hodja, retreated, and contented 
himself with sending threatening letters. As the expedition 
approached the boundary of Matcha, on a cornice road in a 
narrow defile, stones were rolled from above on the troops, and 
they were obliged to retreat. General Abramof at once sent 
a company of sharpshooters to climb the mountains and dis- 
lodge the mountaineers, but without waiting for that he himself 
with his staff rode along the road notwithstanding a shower of 
stones, and this bold action produced a great impression on the 
natives, and was perhaps one reason why they offered no further 
opposition. Oburdan was occupied on May 28, where the 
expedition was met by a detachment composed of a company 
of sharpshooters, fifty Cossacks, and a surveying party, who had 
crossed the mountains through a different pass from Ura-tepe. 
On pursuing his march General Abramof received a letter from 
Patcha Hodja who offered his entire submission ; but instead of 
waiting to receive the presents sent in return by the General, 
he fled from the country. After ordering the destruction of 
the forts at Paldorak, a work in which the inhabitants engaged 
with evident pleasure, the General with a small party proceeded 
to the Glacier of the Zarafshan, which was reached on June 6. 
Meanwhile, Lieutenant-Colonel Dennet with his surveying party 
attempted t ) return to Ura-tepe through the pass of Yany-Sabak, 


13,400 feet above the sea, but after crossing the pass he was 
attacked in a narrow defile by the mountaineers, who rolled 
huge stones down on his command, killing and wounding many 
men ; and after a vain effort to find some means of ascending 
the mountains he was obliged to retreat. On the news of this 
Baron Aminof was sent to meet him and to keep the pass clear. 
On the night of June 12 the surveying party succeeded in re- 
crossing the pass, which was so difficult that they were obliged 
to carry everything by hand, and to drag the horses and mules 
across by lassoes. On his return down the valley of the Zaraf- 
shan General Abramof placed various citadels at the disposition 
of the inhabitants, who immediately levelled them with the 
ground. From Varsaminor the expedition turned southward 
to the fort of Sarvada and to Lake Iskender Kul. Recon- 
naissances were undertaken of all the neighbouring passes, and 
Baron Aminof with a small surveying party went up the valley 
of the Yagnau. From Sarvada it was proposed to return to 
Samarkand through the bekship of Kshtut. Although at the 
start of the expedition Shadi Bek of Kshtut had sent messengers 
to General Abramof with his compliments, he seriously ob- 
jected to having his dominions invaded and had prepared for 
resistance. While the troops were at Sarvada a jigit, who had 
been sent from Samarkand through Kshtut, arrived saying that 
his comrade had been retained prisoner, that the letters and 
despatches had been seized, that a sutler's clerk had been 
killed, and that he himself had barely escaped with his life. 
At the same time Shadi Bek wrote to General Abramof that 
he personally would be glad to allow the expedition to pass 
through the country, but that he could not rely upon his people, 
and that therefore he advised him to go back by the road by 
which he had come. In answer the General threatened him 
with severe punishment if he made the slightest opposition to 
his movements, and on the next day, July 6, reached the top 
of the pass of Kshtut, 10,000 feet above the sea. From this 
place the road descended into a deep basin surrounded by 
almost inaccessible crags ; and it was the intention of Shadi 
Bek to draw the Russian troops into this defile, and then over- 
whelm them by an attack from above. Suspecting this, 
General Abramof, before descending, gave orders to occupy if 
possible the heights of Kuli Kalan on both sides. A severe figbl 


resulted, which lasted all day, and in which, although they de- 
feated the mountaineers., the Russians lost 37 men in killed 
and wounded, a large proportion of the small detachment. 
Kshtut was occupied and destroyed without further opposition, 
and the next day the detachment returned to Penjakent and 
Samarkand. The scientific results of the expedition were the 
exploration of all the upper waters of the Zarafshan as well as 
of its glacier, the barometrical and instrumental determinations 
of a large number of passes and peaks, and a careful map of 
the whole region. 

When this expedition was undertaken, the Russians had no 
intention of annexing the mountainous districts ; but shortly 
after another expedition was made by General Abramof to 
Shahrisabs, which resulted in the capture of the cities of Kitab 
and Shaar, and their transfer to Bukhara. From Shahrisabs a 
part of the troops returned to Samarkand, while another detach- 
ment went up the valley of the Kashka Darya to Farab and 
Magian, the Beks of those places having been implicated in the 
attack on the Russians at the Kuli Kalan heights, and having 
refused to present themselves when summoned to Samarkand. 
The forts of Magian and Farab were destroyed, and Seid and 
Shadi Bek surrendered to the Russians. Hussein Bek, of 
Magian, secreted himself, and was not captured for some months 
after. The districts of Farab and Magian were immediately 
annexed to the Russian district of Urgut. The decision to 
annex the remaining mountain districts was taken the following 
year, 1871. 

In the winter of 1874 one of the former ruling class managed 
to establish himself in the mountains, from which he could not 
be thriven out by the Russians until the spring. Soon after 
there were disturbances in the neighbourhood of Urgut, caused 
by the conduct of the natives put in authority by the Russians. 
In the summer of 1875, during the rebellion in Khokand, 
there were again disturbances in the mountains in consequence 
of the action of the ruler of Karategin, which immediately 
ceased on the appearance of a Russian force, but at the end of 
November matters became somewhat serious. The inhabitants 
of Matcha, influenced, it is said, by emissaries from Khokand, 
threw off its Russian allegiance, and endeavoured to occupy the 
neighbouring district of Falgar. rV small Russian force, con- 


sisting of 100 infantry, one gun, and ten Cossacks, was sent to 
put it down, but it was driven back with the loss of its com- 
mander, two officers, and one-fourth of the men. Additional 
reinforcements were sent from Samarkand, as well as across the 
mountains from Ura-tepe, and after another severe fight the 
Russians succeeded in compelling the insurgents to lay down 
their arms. But the condition of the mountain districts cannot 
yet be considered in all respects perfectly satisfactory. 

From Penjakent the Zarafshan loses its mountain character, 
and enters into a wide valley, where it flows along in a broad 
shallow stream, dividing into several branches, and carried off 
in every direction by irrigating canals ; yet through this most 
fertile part of Central Asia it is possible to ride long distances 
without so much as seeing a bit of verdure, so small is the ex- 
tent of country irrigated by the river. A map of Central Asia, 
on which the arable lands were carefully marked, would be at 
once instructive and curious, so narrow w T ould be the green 
strips along the rivers and at the foot of the mountains. In 
that part of the valley of the Zarafshan under Eussian rule 
there are estimated to be 10,187 square miles, about half of 
which is covered with mountains. In and along the mountains 
about 1,200 square miles are arable, but in the valley itself only 
1,615 square miles ; that is in all only 18 per cent, of the surface 
is at present cultivable, while even if we include that part of 
the Zarafshan valley which belongs to Bukhara, we have alto- 
gether but 3,000 square miles of arable land, of which only 1,793 
is watered by the Zarafshan. If we look at other parts of the 
country, the result is even worse. If we add to the Zarafshan 
the districts of Hodjent (excluding Jizakh) and Kurama, thus 
including almost all the cultivable land in the country, we find 
that but 7^ per cent, of it is arable. If to this we add the 
other districts of the province of the Syr Darya, Jizakh, Tchim- 
kent, Aulie-ata, Perovsky, and Kazala, the most of which is 
steppe land, amounting to over 164,000 square miles, and to 
cover all mistakes allow for that half as much cultivable land 
as in the three districts first mentioned, we shall find that of 
the whole of Russian Central Asia (excluding the late-annexed 
Kyzyl-kum desert; only l T 6 ff per cent, is cultivable, a result 
wliich speaks plainly as to the value of the recently -acquired 



Russian possessions. After the capture of Tashkent, it was 
thought that, as the Russians had now come to the granary of 
Central Asia, the army would be independent of any other base, 
and that forage and provisions could be procured at even less 
cost than before ; but the addition of even this small number 
of Russians has so raised the prices of all grains that in many 
places the culture of cotton has been abandoned for the more 
advantageous grain crops ; and more than that, owing to the 
actual insufficiency of the local production, most of the grain 
for army use has to be brought from Vierny, Kopal, and 
Southern Siberia. 1 

Cultivable land in Central Asia is of two kinds ; that which 
lies along the mountains, and is fertilised by the spring and 

1 The table immediately following of the average prices for ten years at Katta 
Kurgan, was compiled by Captain Grebenkin. expressed in rubles: 





Mutton Tallow 


per batman 

per batman 

per batman 

per pud 

per pud 


1 60 

1 40 


2 20 

3 30 


2 40 

2 r, 

6 40 

2 40 

3 60 


2 80 

2 r 

6 80 

2 40 



2 80 

2 iO 

7 20 

2 40 



3 20 

2 20 

7 60 

2 40 

4 40 


3 20 

2 40 


2 40 

4 40 1 



2 60 

9 20 

2 40 

4 40 1 


3 20 

2 40 

9 60 

2 80 

4 80 


14 40 

11 20 


7 20 

25 60 




11 20 

2 80 

7 20 

The average prices at Samarkand for 1869, 1870, and 1871, according to 
Colonel Sobolof, expressed in rubles were: — 





Wheat, per batman 

4 20 


8 75 

Barley „ 

2 60 


5 20 


5 40 

9 20 

12 80 

Rice „ 

4 20 

5 60 

5 80 

Sorghum „ 

2 60 

6 40 

3 80 


2 20 


3 80 

Cotton „ 




Mutton, per pud 

2 73 

Mutton Tallow, per pud 

6 76 

It must be remembered that 1870 was a year of famine in Bukhara on account 
of a short harvest. In Tashkent a small cuke of bread which at the conquest 
cost one tcheka now costs three. 


autumn rains, called lalmi, and that which is watered almost 
solely by irrigation, called obi or abi. Although the lalmi lands, 
which are the most extensive, produce, especially in favourable 
years, large crops of grain, and are the main reliances for feeding 
the population, yet the irrigated lands, on account of their 
richness and fertility, the constancy of their harvests, and the 
variety of their produce, are by far the most important to the 
well-being and civilisation of the country. The proper regula- 
tion of irrigation is, therefoie, a matter of the greatest conse- 
quence, especially in the valley of the Zarafshan, where every 
drop of water has value, and where without more water there is 
hardly room for another inhabitant. The worth of land is 
estimated chiefly by the amount of water to which it has a 
right, and most of the law suits about lands arise out of disputes 
concerning water. Between Penjakent and Lake Kara-kul. 
where the Zarafshan terminates, there are eighty-five main 
canals, or aryks, drawn from the river, the length of which, 
taken together, is estimated at over 1,570 miles, without 
6peaking of the numerous branches, smaller canals, and ditches, 
by which the water is drawn from the main canals for the actual 
irrigation of the districts and fields. 

A few words will, perhaps, explain the general system. Near 
Penjakent a large canal, called Bulungur, turns to the right, 
and waters the districts of Shiraz, Sugut, and Tchilek on the 
northern side of the valley, being in all about seventy-five miles 
long. It is one of the oldest, having been dug more than 300 
years ago, as legends state, by Abdullah Khan. From this 
another canal, called the Tuya-Tartar of which I have before 
spoken, 1 flowed as far as Jizakh. This was also constructed by 
Abdullah Khan ; but as, although it made a garden in this 
region, it left Bukhara almost without water, it was aban- 
doned on his death. Further down, the Dargam canal goes off 
to the left, watering Samarkand and the country to the south, 
being with its continuations nearly seventy miles long. At the 
base of the hill Tchupan-ata, near Samarkand, the river is 
divided iuto two parts, the Ak Darya (Darya Safit) and the 
Kara Darya (Darya Siya). The Ak Darya, which constitutes the 
main stream of the Zarafshan, and through which the most 
water passes, is to the northward, and after going a short 

On page 227. 


distance is on a considerably lower plane than the Kara Darya. 
After about seventy miles these two branches, which are never 
more than eight or nine miles apart, reunite, forming an island 
of the greatest fertility, known under the name of Miankal — a 
term also extended to the whole middle course of the Zarafshan. 
Above Katta Kurgan the Kara Darya gives off a large canal, 
Nari-pai, which, after about fifty miles, flows again into the 
Zarafshan near Kerrnineh. On the Kara Darya and the Nari- 
pai the whole eastern part of Bukhara is entirely dependent for 

The city of Bukhara and the districts lying north of it are 
watered by the Shahri-rud and other canals taken from the 
Zarafshan below Kerrnineh ; nearly all that remains of the 
water of the Zarafshan is dissipated by other smaller canals, 
very little finding its way into Lake Kara-kul. If we may 
believe legends and chronicles, the region about Kara-kul 
three hundred years ago, strange as it may seem, was irrigated 
by water brought from the Syr Darya, and was one of the most 
flourishing parts of Bukhara. It is said that Abdullah Khan, 
annoyed by the constant wars which he had with the nomads 
to the north of Bukhara, resolved to free himself from their 
neighbourhood, and collecting an army, marched to the lower 
Syr Darya, or to the Yany Darya, and dammed up the canal. 

At present most of the irrigated land is on the northern 
side of the Zarafshan valley, although a century ago the 
southern side was more cultivated. Owing to political revolu- 
tions one hundred and fifty years ago the northern side of 
the Zarafshan became almost depopulated, the inhabitants 
emigrating to Tashkent, Khokand or to the mountains. 
Those who settled in the neighbourhood of Urgut began to 
draw off the water for their use in that direction, and the 
southern side of the valley became the more populous, but with 
the restoration of order under Mir-Haidar the abandoned 
lands on the north were again cultivated, new canals were 
opened, and the diminished population on the southern side 
being unable to manage the quantity of water sent to them, 
some large canals were entirely closed up and nearly all the 
water was sent again to the north. 

As for certain crops the seed must be sown in the spring, 
(bogari), and for others in the autumn (teremai), it is necessary 


to have water on the lands at several different times in the 
year, especially during the months of March, June, July, August, 
and September. 1 When the whole valley of the Zarafshan 
was under one rule, the distribution of the water was carefully- 
looked after by the government, in order that the inhabitants 
of the upper parts, by a too plentiful use of the water, might 
not injure those living lower down. After the occupation of 
Samarkand by the Eussians great complaints were received 
from Bukhara, especially from the districts of Ziaueddin and 
Khatyrtchi, that on account of the failure to renew the dams 
the inhabitants of these localities received no water, and were 
unable to cultivate the lands. A commission composed of 
Eussians and Bukhariots was therefore appointed in the winter of 
1872 to consider the question. It was found that the natives 
distinguished in an indefinite way three states of water in 
the river : high, low and middling. When the water is high 
there is always sufficient for Bukhara ; when the water is low 
no precautions or measures are of any avail ; but in its middle state 
it is necessary to take certain measures to allow the water to 
go on to Bukhara. To this end it is necessary, for the benefit 
of the inhabitants of Khatyrtchi and Ziaueddin, to keep up the 
practice of constructing a dam on the Ak Darya near its 
beginning to raise the water sufficiently high to allow it to flow 
through the Kara Darya ; and another dam in the Kara Darya, 
near the mouth of the Nari-pai canal. These dams will not 
prevent water from going on to Bukhara ; but to give the city 
of Bukhara and its suburbs sufficient water at the two periods 
of the year, May and September, when it is especially necessary, 
it was resolved to half-close the gates of all the canals leading 
from the Zarafshan in the Eussian province : completely to 
close them would be for the Eussians to ruin their own 
agriculture for the benefit of the Bukhariots. These dams, 

1 Bogari from bogar, spring, means properly the crops, for which the seed is 
sown in the spring ; and teremai from tercma, autumn, the crops produced by seed 
sown in the autumn ; but as on lalmi, or rain lands, nothing but spring crops, 
wheat, barley, and millet, can be sown, bogari is sometimes used to denote the 
crops raised on rain lands, and teremai those raised on irrigated land, although 
including many, such as cotton, which are sown in the spring. Ak, white, and kok, 
green, are also used for autumn- and spring-sown crops, ak being also a general 
germ for early crops, those which have become white and ripe while others are still 


however, are to be kept in repair at the expense of the 
Bukharan Government, and for that purpose the Bek of 
Ziaueddin with his workmen comes to Samarkand to repaid 
them about the first of June in every year. 

Most of the canals are looked after by a special officer, 
called a mir-ab (mir ruler, ah water) chosen and paid by the 
inhabitants who are specially benefited by him. Other sub- 
ordinate officials, banman, are appointed to take care of the 
dams. The engineering skill of the natives in constructing 
their canals seems very great, when we remember that they 
have but the most elementary knowledge of hydraulics, and 
are totally destitute of levelling and surveying appliances. 
The water is brought upon the fields either directly from one' 
of the subordinate canals, or by means of water wheels or 
scoops. These water wheels, which are turned either by the 
rapidity of the current, or by means of a water-fall, or, as 
frequently happens, by the labour of an ox or a horse, have 
fastened to their rims a large number of wooden or earthen 
jars, which fill from the canal, and as they reach the top pour 
the water into a pipe leading to the reservoir. The scoop is a 
large wooden shovel with a long handle, suspended by a rope 
to a pole leaning over the canal, and is worked by hand, the 
leverage of the swing being sufficient to throw the water up 
five or six feet. It is exactly similar to the scoop used in 
Kussia for baling out barges. There are three methods of 
applying the water in tillage. For such plants as cotton and 
tobacco it is brought through the fields in small ditches and 
allowed to filter through the soil ; for rice, the fields must be 
kept submerged for a considerable time at different periods. 
For lucerne and grains, where an even distribution of water is 
necessary, the field is usually divided into squares by small 
walls of earth a few inches high. When these squares are filled 
with water the opening from the canal is closed and the water is 
left to soak in. 

Systems of husbandry differ somewhat with the size of the 
estate ; small farmers, possessing only four or five acres, aiming 
by careful cultivation to get as much out of their land as 
possible, without allowing it to lie fallow too long. In general, 
the larger farmers pursue a modification of the three-field 
system. The field, after lying fallow for a year, is sown with 
vol. i. u 


winter wheat or barley. The next year after this crop is reaped> 
the land is again ploughed up and sown for the second harvest 
with either millet, sesame, lentils, carrots or poppies. The 
third year a summer crop of rice, sorghum, cotton, flax or 
vegetables is raised. It is usual, however, when the land has 
been prepared either for rice or for cotton, to sow it for two 
years with the same crop. Other than this general order of 
summer and winter crops there are no commonly received rules 
for the rotation of special crops. Lucerne, jenushka — Medicago 
sativa — is usually sown on the same ground for ten or twelve 
years, producing an abundant crop. The first year it is cut 
twice, yielding an average to a tanap of 200 to 220 bundles of 
an average weight of nine pounds each. The second year there 
will be four harvests of 200 bundles each, and from then until 
the eighth year the field will yield 1,000 bundles a year to a 
tanap, or about five tons to an acre. After the ninth year 
the lucerne is cut only three times a summer, giving each 
year less and less ; and after the twelfth year the field is allowed 
to lie fallow for four years, and is then planted with sorghum, 
then with melons, and then for two years with winter wheat, 
after which it is good again for lucerne. When wheat oi 
barley is to be sown, the field is ploughed from five to ten 
times by means of a rude plough composed of a small pointed 
share tipped with a small piece of iron. The pole is fastened 
so close to the root of the share that the ground is penetrated 
to the depth of only seven or eight inches and is very slightly 
turned up. Ploughing is usually done by a pair of oxen 
(Jcosh), and the amount of ground which one pair of oxen can 
work has become the unit of husbandry, so that land and estates 
are frequently measured by the Jcosh instead of the tanap, 
a hosh being generally equal to forty-eight or fifty tanaps, 
that is thirty-six or thirty-seven acres. Each tanap is en- 
riched with forty or fifty loads of manure, which is ploughed in, 
and at each ploughing the furrows must run at right angles to the 
previous ones. Winter wheat and barley are sown about the 
middle of September and worked in with a rude harrow. 
Winter wheat is irrigated two or three times, barley but once, 
and the harvest ripens but once, about the end of May. The 
grain, instead of being thrashed, is trodden out by oxen 
or horses, and then cleaned by being tossed into the air. 


Sixteen tchariks of wheat are used for sowing a tanap, and 
yield ordinarily a harvest of four to five batmans, that is 
fifteen or twenty fold : in most cases about thirty bushels to 
the acre. 1 Four kinds of wheat (budai), are known ; of whicn 
the best are the white, similar to that of Europe, and the red, 
which is the most esteemed, and of which the best bread is 
made. The wheat of this region is frequently rendered 
dangerous by the admixture of some seed called mast ale, the 
exact character of which has not yet been determined. Oats will 
not grow in Central Asia, and rye has never been cultivated until 
of late, when it has been raised in very small quantities for the 
use of the Kussians. Oats, and in a great measure barley, are 
replaced by sorghum (jugara), which is considered less heating 
for horses, and the green stems of which are good fodder for cattle. 
The leaves are given to sheep and the dry stalks are used for fuel. 
Two to three tchariks of sorghum sown on a tanap will produce 
from two to three batmans, that is from fifty to one hundred and 
sixty fold. Maize is cultivated, but only in very small quantities. 
Millet (taryk), of which there are three varieties, ripens very 
soon, and which is for that reason used -for the second crop, 
after winter wheat, will produce two batmans from five 
tchariks of seed, or about thirty fold. The culture of rice 
demands much more care, patience and hard labour, on 
account of the irrigation, than any other grain, and is generally 
sown only on low swampy land, or at all events in places where 
water is very abundant. Its ordinary return is thirty fold. 
In general the production of grain is hardly sufficient to 
support the inhabitants, and, as I have said before, will by no 
means feed the Eussian population and troops. 

About 25 per cent, of the irrigated land is sown with wheat, 
and about 6£ per cent, with barley. The Whole produce of 
wheat — which is the chief staple of the food of the inhabitants 
on the irrigated lands in the valley of the Zarafshan, as well 
as in that of the Kashka Darya, in which Shahrisabs is situated — 
is estimated at 6,708,500 bushels, which, for the population 
in those valleys of about one million and a half inhabitants, 

1 Mr. Brodofsky agrees with me in this in his ' Agriculture in the Zarafshan 
District, Eussian Turkistan,' vol. ii. p. 240, but the tax returns quoted by Sobo- 
leff give only half as much. The wheat crop in England in 1874. which was better 
than the average, was 32 bushels to the acre. 

v 2 


would be a little more than half a pound for each per day. 
The rain-lands in the same regions would with fair average 
harvests produce 31,190,000 bushels, or a little less than three 
pounds each per day. 1 It is therefore evident that the in- 
habitants of the country must depend chiefly for food on the 
rain-lands, and should there be little snow in winter or no rain 
in spring, so that the harvests on these lands should be 
seriously affected, the population would suffer from hunger. 
Experience shows too that the harvests on the rain-lands are 
exceedingly variable. Thus, for example, in 1862 the extensive 
rain-lands to the south of Katta-kurgan, called Tchul, pro- 
duced 1,106,000 bushels of wheat ; in 1868, 155,620 ; in 1870, 
486 ; and in 1871, 12,430. In 1870 there was a very bad harvest 
and a famine, and although in 1871 all the conditions were 
propitious, the small harvest was due to the lack of seed for 
sowing. A bad harvest is especially felt in that part of 
Bukhara lying on the Zarafshan ; Shahrisabs and the districts 
of the Kashgar Darya can always take care of themselves. In 
Bukhara the population is at least twice as great as that of 
the Eussian Zarafshan district, and the amount of cultivated 
land, which must limit the production of wheat, is only about 
one quarter as great. Consequently, in the most favourable 
years, Bukhara is unable to feed herself, and is obliged to im- 
port grain from other districts. It is not surprising then that 
famines are of not infrequent occurrence. The great famine 
of 1770 is still remembered. In 1810-11 .there was no winter, 
and no rain fell in the spring, wherefore the harvest on the 
rain-lands failed entirely, and there was such a famine that 
men sold their children, their sisters and mothers, and killed 
the old people or left them to starve. In 1835 there was 
another famine from the same causes, but less disastrous in its 
consequences, as there had been, a remarkably good harvest in 
the preceding year. In the winter of 1869-70, there was no 
snow, and very little rain in the following spring, so that the 
wheat on the rain-lands had no sooner sprouted than it dried 
up. In the Katta-Kurgan district the harvest was, as I have 

1 I take these estimates, as well as the facts contained in the following para- 
graphs, from a carefully studied and highly interesting article by A. Grebenkin 
on the 'Causes of the Bad Harvests in Bukhara,' published in Nos. 17 and 18 of 
the 'Turkistan Gazette,' for the year 1872. 


said, only 486 bushels, and these were collected in sheltered 
mountain hollows. The famine began, as the natives expected, 
in the province of Khuzar, where there is nothing but rain-land. 
Even as early as June crowds of hunger-stricken people came 
to Karski and Bukhara to seek work. The price of labour 
fell. By August it was evident that the winter would be very 
severe. The kalym payable on marriage fell from 15L and 
30/. to 21. and 3£., but in spite of the cheapness there were 
very few marriages. As the winter came on cattle and sheep 
began to die for want of food, for the pastures had also dried 
up early in the year. Two-thirds of the stock perished. The 
prices of grain rose to such an extent that the inhabitants of 
the Zarafshan district petitioned for a prohibition of the 
export of grain to Bukhara, on the ground that by spring 
there would be none left for seed, and that therefore the next 
year the famine would be still worse. Nevertheless the con- 
traband export of grain continued. About January Khiva also 
stopped the exportation of grain, so that there was no refuge 
for the hungry except the upper districts of the Amu Darya 
or the Russian provinces. By May 1871 it became evident 
that there would be a plentiful harvest, and the prices 
of grain accordingly fell. P'ortunately there were no military 
operations, and the deaths from starvation were therefore not 
so numerous as might easily have been the case. 

As to the amount of grain raised in the other parts of 
Central Asia, I have been unable to obtain any detailed in- 
formation. The reader has probably noticed that my statistics 
are apt to fail me at the very point where they begin to be 
useful and interesting. My best explanation will be perhaps 
to quote from a report of an official, who at one time held a 
high position in Turkistan. 

'All that we know of the country consists of detached 
descriptions of different localities, and the accounts of recon- 
naissances made by our troops. As to the statistical informa- 
tion which is communicated to us from time to time by the 
district chiefs, it is so vague and superficial, and sometimes 
even so contradictory, that it, would be useless to speak of it. 
The so-called statistical committees, instituted in the different 
localities of Central Asia, exist only on paper. A general 
Statistical Committee for Centra 1 Asia was formed in 1868, but 


it has not been able to fulfil its task, thanks to the peifect 
ignorance of the members of the local administration, who have 
not communicated to it the required information. In 1869, 
by decree of the Commander-in-Chief, statistical committees 
were formed in different districts. In that of the Syr Darya 
the committee was formed for the first time in 1870, and it 
addressed to the functionaries of the local administration a 
circular with questions on the statistics of the localities governed 
by them ; but these questions related to details which only 
provoked general hilarity. The statistical information which 
has been presented by the district chiefs of the province of 
Semiretch contains, among other things, the following: 
" Climate, none ; productive forces, unknown. " Such is the 
extent of our knowledge about the country which we have 

Sesame, poppies, flax and hemp, are cultivated exclusively 
for the oil made from the seeds, although the stalks of hemp 
are sometimes used for the purpose of making rope. In the 
district of Katta-Kurgan, and in some parts of Shahrisabs, 
much madder is cidtivated, it being found a productive and 
lucrative crop. Tobacco is raised in small quantities in many 
parts of Central Asia, but is nowhere of good quality, the best 
coming from Karshi and from Namangan. In the Eussian 
possessions it is but little cultivated, except in Semiretch by 
the Russians. 

Although, as I have before remarked, the culture of cotton 
has somewhat fallen off in late years on account of the rise in 
the price of wheat, still, as it is indispensable for the native 
clothing, and is in great demand for export, it continues to be 
one of the most important productions in the country. At the 
same time it is cultivated only among other things, and there 
is probably no agriculturist who has all of his land under cotton, 
few having more than thirteen or fourteen acres so planted. 
A field is chosen if possible with a good southern exposure, and 
is then manured and ploughed from six to ten times, efforts 
being made to turn over the ground as much as possible, as it 
is considered that the more the ground be worked, the better 
will be the harvest. After being soaked in water for a day, 
the seed is east on the ground during the first two weeks of 
April, and then carefully harrowed, from 30 lbs. to 38 lbs. being 

COTTON. 295 

used on an acre If there be heavy rains after the sowing, it 
is usual to plough the ground up again, and resow it, as other- 
wise there will be no crop. When the plants are a few inches 
high, the ground is carefully hoed and made into hills about 
the plants which are carefully thinned out ; and this hoeing is 
repeated every week or two until the flowering, two months 
after the sowing, when the land is watered for the first time ; 
but then and afterwards, during the great heats, care is taken 
to give no more water than is necessary, as too much would 
injure the plants. The gathering of the bolls is done chiefly 
by women and children. The natives estimate the cost of the 
seed, of manuring, and of preparing and planting the ground, 
at 6 to 10 rubles a tanap, and of the hoeing and subsequent 
work at 4 to 5 rubles. As a tanap will yield from 1-J to 2 
batmans, at the average price of 9 rubles a batman, the profit 
on a tanap will be from 5 to 8 rubles, or 18s. 3d. to 29s. 2d. 
per acre. The seeds are separated from the cotton by running 
them between two wooden rollers, moving in opposite directions. 
This is a primitive and very imperfect method, as, if the rollers 
be not very close together, many impurities and crushed seeds 
will pass through. To clean the cotton of dust and dirt ad- 
hering to it, it is then usually placed on mats and beaten with 
light rods. 

At present there are about twenty-five million pounds of 
cotton sent every year from Central Asia to Eussia, from one-fifth 
to one-sixth of the whole amount imported for the use of Russian 
manufactures. 1 It is considered in every respect to be inferior 
to Surat cotton, which is in still greater quantity imported into 
Russia. The chief reasons of the bad quality of the Central 
Asian cotton are the shortness (rarely two inches stretching to 
three), the thinness, and the weakness of the fibre, the bad way 
in which it is cleaned, and its admixture with so many foreign 
matters. No cotton-presses are used. The cotton" is stuffed 
loosely into a large sack, and on arriving in Russia it is found 
that several inches of the exterior of the bale are so full of 
sand and dirt as to be utterly useless. The loss in this way is 

1 There was imported into Kussia through Europe — 

J 871 1872 1878 

Cotton 44,083,000 lbs. 122,148,000 lbs. 122,182,000 lbs 

Twist 9,472,000 „ 11,009,000 11,426,000 „ 


never less than 25 per cent., often 50 per cent., and on an a\ erage 
35 per cent., while the loss from the worst East Indian cotton 
is only 18 per cent. To cure these evils it has been proposed 
to introduce the use of gins and presses, and the culture oi 
better varieties of cotton. For this purpose the Government 
of Tmkistan has proposed to establish a model cotton planta- 
tion, bat the Ministry of Finance has objected to sending the 
necessary money until the results of the silk-school shall be 
known. A commission, however, has been sent by General 
Kauffmann to America to investigate the methods of cotton 
culture there employed, and to see what improvements might 
be introduced into Tashkent. Many efforts have already been 
made to ameliorate the varieties of cotton planted, and experi- 
ments have been made with American seed. The variety chosen 
for this purpose was ' sea-island,' but it never seemed to occur 
to the reformers that sea-island cotton owed its merit entirely 
to the fact that it was grown on islands off the sea coast, and 
that when sown on uplands or in the interior it lost its good 
qualities. The cotton planted in Tashkent and near Samarkand 
came up and grew beautifully, in fact it kept on growing until 
it reached the height of eight or nine feet, but the winter came 
on before any bolls had a chance to ripen. 

The gardens constitute the beauty of all this land. The 
long rows of poplar and elm trees, the vineyards, the dark 
foliage of the pomegranate over the walls, transport one at 
once to the plains of Lombardy or of Southern France. In the 
early spring the outskirts of the city, and indeed the whole 
valley, are one mass of white and pink, with the bloom of 
almond and peach, of cherry and apple, of apricot and plum, 
which perfume the air for miles around. These gardens are 
the favourite dwelling-places in the summer, and well may they 
be. Nowhere are fruits more abundant, and of some varieties 
it can be said that nowhere are they better. The apricots and 
nectarines I think it would be impossible to surpass anywhere. 
These ripen in June, and from that time until winter fruit and 
melons are never lacking. Peaches, though smaller in size, 
are better in flavour than the best of England, but they are far 
surpassed by those of Delaware. The big blue plums of Bukhara 
are celebrated through the whole of Asia. The cherries are 
mostly small and sour. The best apples come either from 

FRUIT. 297 

Khiva, or from Suzak, to the north of Turkistan, but the small 
white pears of Tashkent are excellent in their way. The quince, 
ys with us, is cultivated only for jams or marmalades, or for 
flavouring soup. Besides water-melons (tarbuz, whence the 
Russian arbuz) there are in common cultivation ten varieties 
of early melons, and six varieties which ripen later, any 
one of which would be a good addition to our gardens. In 
that hot climate they are considered particularly wholesome, 
and form one of the principal articles of food during summer. 
When a man is warm or thirsty, he thinks nothing of sitting 
down and finishing a couple of them. An acre of land, if 
properly prepared, would produce in ordinary years from two 
to three thousand, and in very good years twice as many 
Of grapes I noticed thirteen varieties, the most of them 
remarkably good. The Jews distil a kind of brandy from the 
grapes, and the Russians have begun to make wine, but all the 
brands which I have seen, both red and white, were harsh 
and strong, and far inferior even to the wines of the Crimea or 
of the Caucasus. Large quantities of fruit are dried, and are 
known in Russian commerce by the name of izium or kishmish, 
although the latter is only properly applied to a certain variety 
of grape. If the fruit were dried properly and carefully, it 
might become a very important article of trade, as it is 
naturally so sweet that it can be made into compotes and 
preserves without the addition of sugar. 

The price of an acre of land of medium quality in the best 
parts of Zarafshan valley would be, when reduced into English 
currency, for gardens 11. 4s., for vineyards \0l. 16s., for lucerne 
51. 8s., and for tillage Zl. 12s. According to the tabulated 
prices of 1871, such garden-lands would produce per acre a 
crop worth 41. 6s., vineyards ll. 12s., lucerne meadows 2l. 4s., 
and fields, if planted with wheat, 31., and if with cotton, Si. 12s. 
In the immediate suburbs of Samarkand, land is much dearer, 
an acre of garden-land selling for 141. 8s., and producing 
a crop worth 11. 4s. ; an acre of vineyard-land for 181., pro- 
ducing a crop worth 121. ; an acre of meadow or tillage-land 
101. 16s., producing, if sown with lucerne or wheat, 41. 6s., and 
if with cotton, 31. 

The question of land tenure in Central Asia is one of prime 


importance; firstly, because Russians are not allowed to buy 
land, nor is Russian colonisation permitted until there shall 
be some kind of a land settlement ; and secondly, because in 
all of the projects of a land settlement which have been pre- 
pared by the Russian officials, it is openly or tacitly assumed 
that the fee of all the lands is vested in the State, and that 
therefore the government has the right to dispossess the pro- 
prietors, or to alter the tenure at its pleasure. In all this part 
of Central Asia there has not yet been found any trace of 
communal ownership, but the land tenures are governed theo- 
retically by the same rules that prevail in all Mussulman 
countries, although in practice perhaps changed by certain local 

By the general principles of Mussulman law, lands are of 
five kinds ; milk, the property in the most absolute manner of 
private persons ; miriie, public domain, or the property of the 
State ; mevqufe, lands in mortmain ; metruke, 6 abandoned ' 
land, i.e. land given to public uses, such as roads, streets, &c, 
or pastures belonging to a village or canton ; and mevat, dead, 
or waste lands. Milk, or private property, is either milk- 
ushri, or tithe lands, lands divided among the conquerors 
when an infidel country has been overcome by force of arms, 
and paying a tax of. one- tenth part of the harvest ; or milk- 
haradji, lands which at such conquest were left in the possession 
of the non-Mussulman inhabitants, subject to the payment of 
an impost always more than the ushri, and varying from a 
seventh to a half of the harvest. Milk lands are at the entire 
disposition of the owner, and can be sold, given away, be- 
queathed, or turned into vaqf, or mortmain ; but if the owner 
die without heirs, the land reverts to the government. Miriie 
lands, or the public domain, if kept by private persons, are 
held by them as tenants at will, the tenure passing on their 
death to their male descendants, to the exclusion of the female 
line. 1 Mevqufe lands, or vaqf, as they are more usually called 
in Central Asia, are such as have been given or devised to some 
mosque or college, or for some religious or charitable purpose 
either by private persons or by the State. Lands may be made 

1 By recent reforms the holders of miriie lands in Turkey are allowed to sell 
them with the permission of the authorities, and such lands can be inherited in th» 
female line. 


vaqf either purely for a religious or charitable purpose, or under 
the pretext of such purpose for the benefit of one's children or 
other descendants, thus forming a sort of entail. For instance, 
a small mosque will be built, of which the descendants of the 
donor shall always be the trustees, and the land will be dedi • 
cated to their support as such. Mevat, or waste lands, can be 
turned into rnilk or private property by any person who, with 
the consent of the government (although some schools of law 
think this unnecessary) reclaims, or in the phrase of the shariat, 
• vivifies the land,' that is, irrigates, or plants it. This reclama- 
tion of waste lands, however, must take place within three 
years from the time of occupation, otherwise no right of pro- 
perty passes. Strictly speaking, the land owned by private 
persons in Central Asia is all milk-haradji, there being no 
milk-ushri, except such as under a mistaken idea was made by 
the Kussians, because the land was not originally divided up 
among the conquerors, and because, as the older lawyers put it, 
there was no milk-ushri in the lands watered by the Saihun 
(Amu Darya) the Jaihun (Syr Darya) the Nile, Tigris and 
Euphrates. Hur-halis, another species of milk land, has been 
created in these regions, which is freed from all taxes, they 
having been commuted at the time of its creation, either 
actually, or by a legal fiction. They are also called zar-hariti, 
1 changed for gold.' 

In the countries of Central Asia under native rule, the 
Khanate was divided into several provinces governed by Beks, 
who held with regard to the Amir or Khan a sort of loose 
feudal position. They were obliged to support part of his 
army, and made him large presents, and in certain matters had 
recourse to his superior authority, but the taxes which they 
collected went into their own separate treasuries, and not into that 
of the Khan. In every bekship, however, the Khan had lands, 
the revenue of which went into his own treasury, and such 
lands were called amlak lands, as distinguished from the Bek 
lands, and the tax-collectors subject to him, and not to the 
Bek, bore the name of amlakdars. 1 With respect to these 
amlak lands, some hold the theory that they belong to the 
State, and that the holders of them are only tenants of the 

1 The amlak and the zekat (see page 205) constituted the privy purse of the 


State, and are unable without the State's permission to sell 
their lands. Others say that these lands are all milk, or the 
absolute property of the persons who live on them, and that 
they are only the property of the State in the sense that the 
taxes from them go to the treasury of the Khan, and not to 
that of the Bek ; in a word, that the percentage of the harvest 
paid by the holder of the land is a tax, and not a rent. What- 
ever may be the theory, in practice these lands are the pro- 
perty of the persons cultivating them, for they are sold, given 
away, bequeathed, and turned into vaqf as freely as other lands, 
without any recourse to the government. It seems, however, 
unquestionable that here, as in England, the legal fiction exists 
that everyone in the last resort holds of the crown ; but this is 
merely a fiction, and has no effect in practice. 

The Russian officials, however, who have prepared the 
projects for a land settlement, advocate the view that all these 
lands actually belong to the State, and that the holders are all 
under one form and another tenants. To support this view 
they bring up the theory of the origin of landed property in 
conquest or reclamation, as laid down in the shariat, and the 
fact that when there are no heirs, the lands are claimed by the 
State, as well as the fact that in certain cases the enjoyment of 
the land is restricted. In this, however, they make an error ; 
for they hold that the right of property is restricted or limited 
by certain regulations, especially those regarding irrigation. 
For instance, as an irrigating canal is made for the benefit of 
all the lands bordering it, the use of the water is subject to 
certain restrictions. Proprietors living near the beginning of 
the canal have no right to use more than their proper share of 
water to the detriment of those farther on. This applies par- 
ticularly to rice-lands, but as it would be an expensive matter 
to have guards at the entrance of every man's field to prevent 
him from using too much water, it is found simpler to forbid 
the culture of rice in certain localities. This, however, is not 
a limitation of the right of property, it is only a limitation of 
the right of enjoyment, in the same way as under our laws no 
person has a right to maintain on his land a public nuisance, 
nor is he allowed to infringe the rights of his neighbours as to 
water privileges where there are mills, &c. ; but his right of 


property remains intact, as he can still sell, give away, and 
bequeath his land as he chooses. 

It is therefore now proposed, after quite ten years of occu- 
pation, during which the natives have been left in the full 
possession and enjoyment of their lands, and after the govern- 
ment has recognised this by the purchase of lands from them, 
that the land tenures shall be settled by the government taking 
possession of all of the lands, in contempt of the fact, which is 
admitted by all the officials, that whatever may be the theories 
of the law books, the customs of centuries have given to the 
possessors of these lands the actual rights of property in them, 
and by redistributing them t<5 the inhabitants in limited quan- 
tities on the payment of a yearly rent, the non-payment of 
which will work the forfeiture of the lauds. It is proposed 
suddenly to deprive a whole population of their landed pro- 
perty, and reduce them to the state of tenants, putting them 
practically in the same position as the Christian rayahs are 
under the Turkish government, with whose wrongs the Russian 
government so deeply sympathises. Absolute property is to 
be recognised in the land only where documents emanating 
from the Russian authorities have already been given for it. 
As to vaqf lands, disregarding the fact that many of them are 
really nothing but entailed property, and those lands which the 
authorities are willing to acknowledge as milk lands, there are 
two propositions. One is to leave them in the possession of 
the persons or institutions actually occupying them, while the 
lands which are underlet to other persons shall be rented to 
these other persons, the owners of the vaqfs being properly 
indemnified. The other proposition is that the government 
take all the vaqf lands into its actual possession, applying the 
revenues to religious, benevolent, and educational purposes in 
the districts in which the lands lie, but not necessarily to those 
purposes for which the vaqfs were created. It is claimed that 
the existence of so much land in mortmain is a burden on the 
inhabitants, and maintains a large and fanatical clerical class, 
which is dangerous to the peace and well-being of the State. 
It is also gravely proposed to found communes similar to, but 
not identical with, the village communes of Russia ; and this 
in a country where communal institutions are unknown, and 
where they would not be consonant to the customs, feelings, or 


usages )t tlie inhabitants. A forced plant like this could take 
no root, while its decay would poison the atmosphere. The 
arguments in support of these most extreme, and, as they seem 
to me, most unjust measures, are various and contradictory 
One is that the natives would have no respect for the Eussians 
if the government were thus to abdicate its rights, and by an 
uncalled-for act of beneficence grant to the natives the full 
right to the property which they call their own. Another is, 
that if the natives were confirmed in the possession of their 
property, they would not be willing to sell their lands to the 
Eussians, and thus this would impede and prevent Eussian 
colonisation ; while with the same breath the supporters of the 
measure declare that the inhabitants will surrender all their 
lands for a sojig, and thus leave the country utterly unpopulated. 
Were there contests between different classes as to the ownership 
of lands, or were there large proprietors who had claims con- 
flicting with those of their tenants, we might understand the 
proposed resettlement of the lands ; bat as we know that there 
are no large proprietors in this part of Asia, and that disputes 
between landlord and tenant are almost unknown, nothing as 
yet from the side of the inhabitants has called for any legisla- 
tion on this subject, other than that which is usual in all 
conquered countries, of confirming to the inhabitants their 
rights to the property which they possess, in accordance with 
the laws of the preceding government. I do not know whether 
to ascribe these propositions to a mania for change and reform, 
or to an innate incapacity to understand the bases of personal 
liberty and of the rights of property. It is proper to say that 
these measures were not drawn up by statesmen, for Eussian 
statesmen as yet have given but slight attention to the situation 
of affairs in the remote province of Turkistan, and all the pro- 
jects for the government of that region have so far been rejected 
by the Council of the Empire, or have been withdrawn. They 
are the work of soldiers, of minor clerks who have reached re- 
sponsible official positions, and of a few young men who, because 
they may have graduated at the Alexander Lyceum, which was 
founded to educate statesmen, and which is the alma mater of 
Prince Gortchakoff, imagine that from that circumstance alone 
they are necessarily as great statesmen as that distinguished 
man. The officials of Turkistan would do well to take a lesson 

TAXES. 303 

from the land settlement of Lord Cornwaiiis in India, and its 
now acknowledged injustice and evil results, before they take 
such a decisive step as that proposed. Maine, in his ' Village 
Communities,' speaking of the English land settlements, says : 
'Their earliest experiments, tried in the belief that the soil 
was theirs, and that any land law would be of their exclusive 
creation, have now passed into proverbs of maladroit manage- 
ment.' I am convinced that any attempt to induce the land- 
holders of Turkistan to become tenants of the government, 
would be productive of the greatest discontent, and would cause 
the Eussians such difficulties, that a far larger garrison than 
they have at present would be insufficient to maintain order. 
It must be remembered too that the appropriation of the title 
to the lands by the government would necessitate the inter- 
vention of another ministry, that of Crown Domains, which has 
as yet had little to do with Central Asia, and that although this 
ministry is one of the purest in Eussia, a new set of officials, 
especially with the work they would have to do, would give 
additional chances of extortion and corruption. 

Closely connected with land tenure, is the subject of taxes 
on land. At present these are of two kinds, haradj and tanap. 
As the zekat, or tax on trade, was originally a contribution for 
carrying on war against the infidels, the support of Islam, and 
the maintenance of the poor and needy, so haradj was a con- 
sequence of religious war, being the impost on those inhabitants 
who were allowed to retain possession of their lands, although 
now applied to all lands, Mussulman or non-Mussulman. It 
was of two kinds, proportional (meJcasim), a certain part of the 
harvest of grain lands, and usually paid in kind ; or fixed 
(mudazer), a stated sum levied on lands of fixed dimensions. 
In Central Asia the fixed haradj was usually levied on garden- 
lands, or orchards and meadows, and, as the unit of land- 
measure was the tanap, it became to be known as the tanap 
tax, in distinction from the ordinary haradj. Under Bukharan 
rule the haradj was nominally one-fifth of the harvest, and 
frequently more, and it remained so in the Zarafshan valley 
until the spring of 1873, when just before the Khivan Expedition, 
in order to quiet the population, it was reduced to one-tenth, 
the same as it had been in the districts of the Syr Darya since 
the Euspian occupation. Under the Bukliaran administration the 


taxes in eacli of the many districts were collected by an officer 
called serker, who, with his large staff of assistants, — scribes and 
land-measurers, — inspected the cultivated lands during the 
whole summer, kept accounts of the amount under cultivation, 
and of the probable size of the crop, and finally after the harvest 
visited each thrashing-floor, and took the portion of grain 
falling due to the government. His salary was paid by an 
additional tax, kiafsen, which was estimated at about one- 
tenth of the government tax. 

This system opened the way to concealment of the true 
harvest on the part of the inhabitants, and to a great deal of 
extortion on the part of the officials. The serker would make 
arrangements with the richer inhabitants, letting them off a 
part of their tax on receipt of a sufficient bribe 1 , and exacting 
from the poorer proprietors much more than their due. Here 
is an authenticated instance which occurred under the Eussian 
administration. On the thrashing floor of a small proprietor 
there were 320 lbs. of corn. The tax collector arrived and first 
took as his pay one quarter of it. His assistant took his usual 
pay, — his sleeveful, — but as he had very large sleeves for the 
purpose, this amounted to an eighth, or 40 lbs. The messenger 
of the imam also took 40 lbs., for the religious officials were by 
custom allowed their share. The scribe also took an eighth. 
The baker who accompanied the tax-collector then laid two or 
three small cakes on the thrashing floor and was allowed to 
take 20 lbs. The pipe-bearer handed to the tax collector his 
pipe, holding in the other a nosebag in which he was allowed 
to place also 20 lbs. A gipsy prostitute spread out before the 
serker a pair of new trousers and a cap, and received not only 
30 ibs., but an invitation to tea as welh There remained, 
therefore, only 50 lbs. This was then carefully divided into 
five parts, one of which (10 lbs.) went to the government, 
while the proprietor had left an eighth of his harvest. It was 
remarked that in this flagrant case, the agriculturist made no 
complaint. In all probability he had suffered no real loss, as 
he had previously succeeded in concealing the greater part of 
his harvest. 

From 18G8 to 1871, as the fate of the Zarafshan valley was 

1 The exemption from taxes for honourable, or distinguished people — rigaya— 
is well recognised throughout Central Asia. 


still undetermined, and there was an expectation of returning 
it to Bukhara, the native system of tax collecting was kept up 
The evils of it, as carried on under Russian supervision, became 
at last very manifest ; for it was found that the tax collectors 
stole a considerable part of the tax, and in 1871 they were 
obliged to refund more than 165,000 rubles. A change was 
therefore made in the method of collecting, by abolishing the 
greater part of the officials, and by imposing their duties on the 
village authorities. The receipts of taxes since that time have 
much improved. In other parts of Turkistan the taxes are 
collected by the boards of rural administration. 

The tanap tax varied from 40 kopeks to 3 rubles and 60 
kopeks per tanap of ground. Besides this there were some 
other taxes left by the Bukharan government, which continued 
to remain in force. The most important of these was the 
kosh-pul, a tax laid on each kosh of land during the reign of 
Shah Murad Khan, 1782-89, for the purpose of building and 
repairing irrigating canals. 

This tax, which originally was only 40 kopeks on a kosh, 
was increased at different epochs to five and nine times that 
amount, and when the territory was occupied by the Russians 
amounted to 3 rubles and 61 kopeks. 

It now goes directly into the treasury, and is no longer 
applied, as it should be, to purposes of irrigation. For repairs of 
roads, bridges, ferries, and for what in Russia are called zemsky, 
or provincial purposes, the Russians were obliged to levy 
another tax, which in the Zarafshan valley was fixed at 25 
kopeks on each house or kibitka, amounting in all to 10,000 
rubles. In the Syr Darya districts the house-tax, which is 
there 75 kopeks per house or kibitka, is not sufficient for the 
provincial needs, and it is necessary to levy another general 
tax, which, as I said before in speaking of Tashkent, is pro- 
portioned directly among the inhabitants. 

The amounts of taxes resting primarily or ultimately on 
land in the Zarafshan district were in 


284,043 rubles 

1869 . • 

408,770 „ 


649,800 „ 


. 1,190,970 „ 

VOL. I. 


In the rest of the Russian province of Turkistan. the taxes 
of the same character amounted to the following sums : 


693,970 rubles 


1,125,058 „ 


1,416,196 „ 


1,185,075 „ 

The native population in the Zarafshan district is about 
281,000, and the land taxes, to say nothing of taxes of every 
other kind, such as the zekat, and trade duties, amounted in 1868 
to one ruble (2s. 9d.) per head ; in 1869 to one ruble and forty- 
five kopeks (4s.); in 1870 to two rubles and thirty-one kopeks 
(6s. 4d.); and in 1871 to four rubles and twenty-three kopeks 
(lis. 7c?-.). The increase in this case is more apparent than real, 
it being due chiefly to the better collection of the taxes rather 
than to their augmentation. 

It is proposed, in case the land settlement should go into 
effect, to turn all these taxes into rent, and after dividing the 
land according to its returns into eight categories, to fix the 
average harvests and make the rent ten per cent, of their worth, 
which would bring in from twenty-five kopeks to five rubles a 
desiatin, or from 3d. to 5s. an acre. The zemsky tax would be 
one-tenth of that amount, and the few lands, the absolute pro- 
perty in which will be allowed to the natives or to Russians, being 
freed from the rent, will pay only the zemsky tax, whereby the 
richer portion of the community will pay no taxes at all, these all 
falling on the poorer agriculturists. The officials defend this 
arrangement on the ground of its similarity to what now exists 
in European Russia. They find these taxes light in com- 
parison with those which are imposed on the Russian peasauts, 
who sometimes have to pay in this way more than the incomes 
of their farms and holdings ; and there is even noticeable a tone 
of dissatisfaction at not being able, after all the pain and cost 
of conquest, to grind out of the population as heavy taxes as 
are obtained in Russia, where the peasants are still practically 
fixed to the soil. 1 

One reason for this feeling is the natural annoyance felt by 
the Russian officials on finding that the expenditure necessary 

1 See the work of Colonel Sobolef, already cited, and the 'GgIob,' No. 134, of 
16th (28th) May, 1875. 


for the government of the country so far exceeds the revenue, 
and that all the country which the Eussians have annexed of 
late years is a useless acquisition, and for all practical purposes 
of trade and agriculture is worthless. But this subject I shaP 
discuss more at length in the subsequent chapter. 

Under all this, too, there is a lurking feeling, — which is 
perhaps innate in every man of "a conquering race with regard to 
those conquered, — that the natives, even in their own country, 
have no rights, and that admitting and granting them are acts 
of a pure, if not self-injurious, liberality. Such a feeling has 
been very noticeable in the ideas expressed by the Russians 
with regard to ;rade. 




Rencontre at Jizakh — Zami n — Ura-tepe — Peak of Alty n -bi shik — Nan — Hod- 
jent — Its situation — Defence against the Khokandians — Coal mines — 
Lead — Gold — Naphtha — Exaggerated accounts of mineral wealth — Bridge 
over Syr Darya — Prefect's residence — Population of Kurama — Stock-raising 
— Climate of Central Asia — Earthquakes— The Calendars— Agricultural 
solar year — Zodiacal months — Their Chaldaean origin — The Kirghiz 
Calendar derived from the Mongol — The Twelve-year Cycle. 

At last I left Samarkand one evening, and the next day at 
noon found myself at Jizakh, where I was told that horses 
were already waiting for me. I had mentioned in Samarkand, 
that I should be glad, if possible, to make a detour to Hodjent, 
and as the road thither from Jizakh was not a post road, the 
Prefect of Samarkand had been kind enough to send on a 
message that horses should be prepared for me all along the 

While I was in the midst of an improvised breakfast, a 
thick-set Cossack officer dropped into the post-station, nominally 
to look at the wares of a commercial traveller who had fixed 
himself there for a day or two, but really I think to inspect 
me. I found out that he was the commandant of the place, 
but as he himself did not choose to inform me of his rank, I 
pretended ignorance and answered his questions, which out of 
politeness he addressed to me in French, as indifferently as I 
could. I came near laughing when he put, as he thought, 
some rather adroit inquiries about the movements of MacGrahan, 
whom he evidently supposed to be an English spy, and when 
he tried to find out whether I had ever seen or -heard of him, 
and whethei it was not true that he had travelled in my 
company. 1 do not think, however, that he got very much 
satisfaction. I learned afterwards that on that very day, or 


the next, he started off with a troop of Cossacks in pursuit of 
MacGahan, having just received orders to that effect. As I 
had then heard nothing from MacGahan since he had left me 
at Perovsky, I do not think that, had I desired, I could have 
afforded this worthy officer any information to guide him on 
his road. 

Turning south-east towards the mountains, we went along 
what seemed a good country road, through a well-cultivated 
region partly irrigated from the mountain streams, but chiefly 
composed of rain-lands on the hill slopes. The path of the 
moisture was visible in the steppe by the profusion of flowers, 
and even the drier portions were covered with capers, yellow 
larkspurs, and clumps of yucca. Far up on the mountain- 
sides we could see yailaks, or summer encampments of Uzbeks, 
and flocks and herds. After changing horses twice and driving 
at a fast pace about forty miles we reached Zamin, now a small 
town of only twenty houses, at the foot of the large dilapidated 
citadel which still frowns upon it from a high mound. It was 
formerly the residence of a Bek more or less dependent upon 
Ura-tepe. On this by-road travellers were evidently of rare 
occurrence, and I was probably mistaken for some Eussian 
official, for all the inhabitants turned out to see me, received 
me with great respect, and showed me to a platform in front of 
one of the houses which had been prepared for my reception 
with rugs and pillows. I was no sooner seated than the 
aksakals of the village came to pay their respects, bringing 
with them trays of fruits and sweets. After walking up and 
down the one street which constitutes the town, and then dining, 
we set out again, but after about an hour's drive the daylight 
suddenly changed into darkness, and the inexperienced drivers 
missed their road. At first we did not notice it, but we soon 
began bumping over uneven ground, and finally brought up in 
a dry ditch, when we perceived that we were lost. Lighting 
our lanterns we found that no damage had yet been done, but 
as no one had any idea how far we were from the road, or in 
which direction it lay, we resolved to remain there until morn- 
ing. While we were still discussing and endeavouring to put 
the best face on the matter some Kirghiz came up, having 
probably been attracted by our light, and set to work to find 
the road for us. How they found it I do not know, but they 


walked about for some time closely examining the ground, and 
even I think smelling it, sometimes iying flat to discover some 
traces. At last they told us to start, and moving on with great 
caution we soon came again to the road, although at a ver, dif- 
ferent place from that at which we had left it. We were still 
reflecting on the wonderful instinct of the Kirghiz in setting us 
light, when we reached the hamlet of Sabat, where we waited 
for daylight, and arrived at Ura-tepe at 10 o'clock in the 

At the station some message was given to the driver, and I 
was taken to a large comfortable house, which, as I afterwards 
understood, belonged to a Russian officer who was then absent 
on the Khivan campaign, and which was placed at my dis- 
position while I stayed there. At the time, however, I could 
find out nothing, — neither to whom the house belonged, nor 
who was its occupant, nor in what light I was considered. I 
had a vague impression that I was being billeted upon some 
one by superior order, and that I might be putting him to 
inconvenience, which made my position very awkward and 
caused me to hasten my departure. Soon after the com- 
mandant came in full uniform to make a formal call and invited 
me to breakfast, but yet vouchsafed no explanation. His official 
residence was on the side of a steep hill opposite the town, 
and above it were the ciumbling walls of the old citadel, one 
of the strongest in Central Asia, now occupied by but a few 
Russian soldiers. From here I think you get the finest town 
view in Central Asia. At the bottom of the hill is a little 
stream, now narrowed, and dammed, and spanned by bridges, 
hemmed in on each side by walls and houses, now flowing 
through many channels over a wide gravelly bed. Above it 
the flat roofs rise terrace-like on the hill side, broken occasion- 
ally by a dome or cupola and surmounted by the long decorated 
facade of the college of Rustam Bek, which was built some 
thirty years ago in imitation of the Shir-dar at Samarkand. 
The town is full of gardens, and tall trees rise up everywhere 
between the houses, thus taking off that dead grey colour of 
dirt which so wearies the eye in all Asiatic towns. Gardens 
and green fields stretch far up the hill side, and beyond these 
are the ridges of other low hills, and finally the two chains of 
the Turkistan and Za»afshan mountains with their many snow- 


capped peaks. To the south-east these mountain? grow higher 
until they culminate in the sharply outlined pyramidal mass 
of the Altyn-Bishik, the summit of which is always clearly 
illuminated by the sun. This is the highest of the three peaks 
of Abdu-Baisher (20,00u feet), and to account for its name the 
natives tell the following legend. A rich Tadjik in Hodjent 
had had several children, but they had all died young. At 
last, when a son was born, his wife consulted a witch as to the 
fate of the child, and was told that up to the age of sixteen 
the boy would be liable to die from the bite of a tarantula. 
The father, wishing to ward off this danger, and knowing that 
in high places where it is cold there are no tarantulas, scor- 
pions, or serpents, took his son to the very top of the moun- 
tain, and set his cradle there. All went well for a time. The 
boy grew up strong and well in the fresh air of the mountain. 
At last his sixteenth birthday came, and the parents made a 
great feast on the mountain-top. When the festivity was at 
height the youth cried, fell down and died. The attendants 
then found an immense tarantula which had been hidden in 
a basket of grapes, and had thus worked the will of the fates, 
for the sixteen years had not yet been fully completed. The 
youth was buried on the mountain-top, and, in pity of the 
mourning parents a large cloud came and covered them and 
their dead child with snow, which sank down into the valleys 
of the mountain, while the rocky ribs stood out strong and 
black, as though in mourning. From that time the snow has 
never left it, but clouds no longer touch it, and every day, in 
remembrance of the past when it shone on the cradle of the 
boy, the sun comes to gild it with its rays. 

I wandered for a long time through the curious winding 
bazaar of Ura-tepe, particularly attracted by the green riding 
boots studded with silver nails, and the large wooden sabots, 
.each on three stout wooden feet, into the ends of which "were 
driven nails. These are worn by the Graltchas from the moun- 
tains and from Karategin, who frequently come down to this 
bazaar. I visited the college of Eustam Bek, and the old 
mosque of Abdullatif, which I found without special interest, 
and far more beautiful in the distance than near at hand, and 
then returned to the bazaar, where I would willingly have 
lingered,— for the inhabitants were all kind and well ditposed v 


and inclined to conversation, — had not a rain storm driven me 

Ura-tepe, the ancient Usrushna (Oshrusene and Satrushna), 1 
\TuS in the old times an appanage of Fergana, but was fre- 
quently for a time independent, and during the present century 
has been a constant apple of discord between Khokand and 
Bukhara. Its recent history, as related by its last Bek, Abul 
GrarTar, was a yearly succession of broils, rebellions, campaigns, 
sieges, and family murders ; but still, throughout it all, whether 
under the dominion of Khokand, Tashkent, Hodjent or Bukhara, 
Abul Graffar's family succeeded, in spite of temporary disasters, 
in maintaining its hereditary right to rule. The battle of 
Irjar in 1866 broke the power of Bukhara, and led to the fall 
of Hodjent. It was not, however, until four months later, that 
in consequence of the hitch in the negotiations with the Amir, 
a detachment was sent against Ura-tepe, which, after much 
difficult work, succeeded in establishing batteries. The citadel 
was finally taken by assault on October 14, after a siege of 
eight days, and a hard struggle of an hour and a half. Abul 
Gaffar Bek, and most of the garrison, managed to escape to the 
mountains, but the retreat of many of them was cut off, and 
the hundreds of corpses which were found during the next few 
days showed how many of the defenders had perished in their 
flight. Besides many prisoners, the Eussians took 15 cannon 
and 4 standards, but lost 3 officers and 200 soldiers killed and 
wounded. Since that time Ura-tepe has been peaceful enough, 
and although a town of more than 10,000 inhabitants, has 
required but a very small garrison. 

Four hours' fast driving brought us to the little town of 
Nau, which, instead of being the fortress I supposed, is only an 
insignificant collection of hout-es well situated in a pretty 
country. At the post-station they were expecting us, and had 
prepared a room for us, and we had no sooner taken possession 
of it, than the aksakals presented themselves with a deputation 
from the town. The rain which we had met at Ura-tepe 
overtook us again here, lasted all night, and accompanied us to 
Hodjent in the morning. Everyone assured me that it was a 
most unusual circumstance, as in the summer there was rarely 

1 An interesting discussion on the primitive form of this word will be found 
in Mr. P. Lerch's valuable paper on the ' Coins of the Bukhar-Khudats,' p. 78, ff. 


any rain at all. Perhaps the summer of 1873 was an unusual 
one, for this was not the only time I met with a pouring rain. 

The approach to Hodjent was very pretty. The road all 
the way from Nau lay between gardens and fields, and I 
noticed here that the clay walls, instead of being high and 
completely shutting out the view, were low, and merely intended 
to keep out the cattle. This added greatly to the charm of the 
landscape. The fields, however, — which in the immediate 
vicinity of Hodjent were either cotton plantations or vine- 
yards, — had each two or three towers or observatories, from 
which the guardians could see the approach of marauders. 
The mulberry trees along the walls had been stripped of all 
their branches to feed the silkworms, so that they looked like 
so many dead trunks. When we reached the gate of Hodjent, 
we were met by two jigits, who accompanied us to the house of 
the judge, on whom we were billeted. Here I was able to 
understand the conditions on which I was received, but they 
were not calculated to render my stay more pleasant, and I 
therefore hastened my departure. I was neither a guest nor a 
stranger ; that is, I was never allowed to pay for my lodging 
or for my provisions, nor was I received as a guest of the 
family, but certain rooms were set apart for me, and every- 
thing which I wanted was placed at my disposition. In fact, 
I was quartered on the owner of the house, who in this case 
was the judge, and who probably was only too glad to get rid 
of me. Curiously enough a year later, while on an official visit 
of investigation to Ura-tepe, he was murdered by the officer on 
whom I was quartered in that place, who, it seems, saw no 
other method to relieve himself from the accusations brought 
against him. 1 The prefect, Baron Nolde, a Swede from the 
Baltic provinces, who had been educated at the University of 
I)orpat, received me very kindly, and had me shown the bazaar, 
mder an escort of aksakals, interpreters, and jigits. I visited 
some mosques and seme schools, made the acquaintance of 
some Kazis, and rode through the bazaar ; but even had there 

: This officer was tried and found guilty of premeditated assassination, and 
was sentenced to the mines in Siberia. Family influence, however, at St. Peters- 
burg, procured a delay in carrying the sentence into execution, and General Kauf- 
maim, on returning to Tashkent in 1875, at once released him, and the next daj 
invited him to dine— much to the scandal of the law-abiding inhabitants. 


not been a pouring rain, my suite was too large for eithet 
amusement or inquiry. Subsequently, on going to Khokand, I 
remained in Hodjent several days, and bad a better opportunity 
to make myself acquainted witb tbat place. 

Hodjent bas a pleasanter air tban almost any otber Central 
Asiatic city, due, I tbink, in part to its situation on tbe river 
bank, and in part to the sociable and pleasure-loving character 
of its inhabitants, for by far the majority of them are Tadjiks. 
In being so close to the river, Hodjent is an exception to most 
Asiatic cities, but the native town was never exactly on the 
shore, the intervening space having been since filled up by the 
Eussians, a small colony of whom is stretched along the bank 
with bathing houses and washing places below. The bank 
being high, the river is of no use whatever to the town, which 
receives its water supply from the little stream of Hodja 
Bakargan. Towards the end of summer, this stream frequently 
dries up, and the city then often suffers for want of water, 
there being no pumping-machines to furnish water from the 
river for the gardens and houses. The distress from lac!* of 
water is greatly intensified by the heat. Just across the Syr 
Darya is a high rocky hill, called Mogul-tau, which, absorbing 
the sun's rays all day long, gives out heat like a furnace, when- 
ever the wind blows from the north. In one corner of the 
town, not far from the river, is the old citadel, built on an 
artificial square mound, a hundred feet or more in height. A 
steep path and staircase give access to the fort, from the top of 
which is obtained a magnificent view of the surrounding 
country, and of the distant mountains. I hardly know whether 
the mound is even solid, on account of the hollow sounds heard 
in many places, and suspect that the whole thing is a wooden 
framework only half filled in with earth. Indeed there is a 
story that two or three soldiers once fell through the floor, and 
were never more heard of. 

The bazaar is large in proportion to the size of the city 
(30,000 inhabitants), and although no great trade is carried on 
there in any specialty, it is yet an exceedingly interesting 
place for studying the life of the community. 1 

1 Baber, in describing Hodjent, says : — ' This is a very ancient city. Sheik 
Maslehet and Hodja Keinal were of Hodjent. Its fruits are very good, particu- 
larly its pomegranates, which are so celebrated that the apples of Samarkand and 



Hodjent, being on the direct road from Khokand to Bukhara, 
was at one time a place of considerable commercial importance, 
for all the trade of the two countries passed through it. Since 
the Russian occupation, this trade has been in a great measure 
obstructed, and being in part contraband, has been obliged to 
seek byways, so that the importance of Hodjent has fallen off. 


Being at the same time a city of some importance in itself, it 
was always an apple of discord between Khokand and Bukhara, 

the pomegranates of Hodjent have passed into a proverb ; but excellent as the 
latter are, they are greatly excelled at present by the pomegranates of Marghinan. 
The fortress of Hodjent is situated on an eminence, having on the north the river 


and although having for ages belonged to Khokand, was fre- 
quently captured and held for a time by the Bukharans. When 
the Amir of Bukhara assisted Khudayar Khan to remount his 
throne in 1864, he retained Hodjent in his possession, refusing 
to give it up, and still nominally ruled it, although it had been 
abandoned by his troops, when the Russians under General 
Romanofsky took it by storm on June 5, 1866, after the defeat 
of the Bukharan army at Irjar. As the inhabitants of Hodjent 
were left entirely to themselves, and had not had time to put 
the city in a good state of defence, and were unsupported by 
Bukharan troops, although bands of Khokandians were scouring 
the neighbourhood, and endeavouring to send in the country 
people to fight, its capture did not cost as much effort as it 
otherwise might have done. Still the Russian loss was com- 
paratively heavy, for there were 5 killed, 6 missing, and 122 

In 1872 Hodjent was the scene of a riot, growing out of the 
general dissatisfaction with the Russian rule, which had to be 
quelled by the troops, and in 1875 it played an important part 
in the war with Khokand. 

The Khan had taken flight, and the Russian troops were 
preparing to punish the rebels, but it was not supposed that they 
themselves would take the offensive, when on August 20 news 
was received of the proximity to the town of large bodies of 
Khokandians. This intelligence caused Baron Nolde, the com- 
mandant, to be a little more on his guard, and small detach- 
ments were stationed outside the gates and at the bridge. 
During the night, there was an attack upon the gardens of 
the District command, but it was apparently made only by 
marauders, who were easily driven off. At daybreak, however, 
the Khokandians, in great numbers, attacked the city at three 
points at once : on the Khokand road, at the Nau gates, on the 
road leading to Ura-tepe and Samarkand, and at the bridge. 

Seihun, which flows past at the distance of about a bow-shot. On the north of the- 
fort and of the river Seihun there is a hill, which is named Myoghil, where they 
say that there are turquoise and other mines. In this hill there are many serpents. 
Hodjent is a good sporting country ; the white deer, the mountain goat, the stag, 
the fowl of the desert, and the hare, are found in great plenty ; but the air is ex- 
tremely noisome, and inflammations of the eyes are common ; insomuch that they 
say that even the very sparrows have inflammation in the eyes. Th l s badDess oi 
the air they ascribe to the hill on the north.' 


The first attack was made on the Khokand road, where the 
Russians had only a single company of infantry, and forty 
Cossacks, but after the alarm, these were reinforced by two 
other companies and four guns, and the command was given to 
Colonel Savrimovitch, who immediately advanced and repelled 
the enemy, — who were estimated at 10,000 men, — far beyond 
the gardens. At the same time a large body of Khokandians 
appeared on the other side of the river, which they had crossed 
higher up, and made an attack on the bridge, of the importance 
of which Abdurrahman Aftobatcha, the head of the rebels, and 
who was in personal command at the attack on the city, was 
fully aware. On the other side of the bridge there was posted 
only a single company of sharpshooters, under the command of 
an ensign with no artillery ; and this small detachment bore 
the brunt of the attack of this immense mass of the enemy for 
two hours and a half, until another company and two guns 
could be sent out. Both companies then opened front and 
advanced, and a few rounds of shot soon compelled the enemy 
to retreat from the bridge. At the Nau gate the fighting was 
much harder. Before the Russian forces had come up, the 
Khokandians, who had occupied all the surrounding heights in 
great numbers, had succeeded in getting possession of the 
gates, and it was only after a sharp hand-to-hand fight that 
the Russians managed to drive them off, and to retake the 
gate. Desultory firing was kept up all day at this point, as 
well as on the Khokand road, but towards evening the enemy 
retreated. Matters then began to look very serious, and <tn 
order was given by Baron Nolde, that the Russian families 
should take refuge in the fortress, he himself, it is said, first 
setting the example, while all the old soldiers, and all the 
able-bodied merchants, were armed and enrolled into a com- 
pany of volunteers. That evening the besieged were agree- 
ably surprised by the arrival of fourteen workmen from the 
glass works of IsaiefT at Digmai, a place some nine miles 
off in the hills. They reported that the Khokandians, joined 
by the inhabitants of the village, had made an attack upon the 
works, and before they had had a chance of organising them- 
selves, had captured two men and three women. The rest shut 
themselves up in a single room, and were intending to defend 
their lives to the last, when the Khokandians set fire to the 


building. They then jumped out of the window into the 
midst of t le crowd, and dealt blows right and left. The 
Khokandians were so astonished by this sudden onset, that 
they gave way, and the men, by a few shots, were able to keep 
them at a distance, and make their way to Hodjent. The next 
day a company of the second battalion arrived from Ura-tepe, 
having kept up a running fight all the way from Nau. This 
place was captured by the Khokandians, and three or four 
Eussians living there, including the station-master, were 
murdered outright, or carried off as prisoners. That day there 
was another attack on the gate, and an attempt to bring about 
a general fight on the Khokand road, but Colonel Savrimovitch 
drove the enemy back to the hills. On Monday the 23rd, the 
Khokandians again made an attack on the bridge from the 
opposite bank of the river. Two companies of infantry and 
two guns were sent out against them, and after a little brush, 
put them to flight, but could not pursue them, having no 
cavalry. The situation of the besieged had become very 
difficult. They had but few troops, and these had constantly 
to be moved about from one end of the town to the other, and 
were always in a state of alarm. They had received no newa 
from Tashkent, although they had every reason to believe that 
troops were advancing. At the same time, if these troops 
should be slow on their march, the great masses of the enemy, 
although bad fighters, might succeed in tiring them all out, 
and they might in the end be compelled to submit to the loss 
of the town, and to shut themselves up in the citadel. It was 
therefore resolved to take the offensive, and to advance on the 
village of Kostakoz, where the main body of the Khokandians 
of 15,000 men was known to be. Two columns under Colonel 
Savrimovitch and Colonel Yefremof, marched at day break. 
Colonel Savrimovitch met the enemy's forces close to the town, 
and, repulsing them by a cannonade, pursued them as far as 
Kostakoz, where there was a severe fight, the whole contest 
lasting from 5 30 in the morning until noon. The enemy's 
loss, which was supposed to have been large, was not exactly 
known, as they had time to carry off their dead. Colonel 
Yefremof broke the retreat of the Khokandians at Ispissar, 
and threw them back to the Syr Darya. During the day a 
Russian ensign, who with a companion had been made prisons 


at a station on the Tashkent road, was sent back under guard, 
bearing a summons from the Khokandians to the Russians to turn 
Mussulmans, who promised them on that condition permission 
to leave the country with their families and property. That 
night the first battalion of sharpshooters and four cannon arrived 
from Tashkent. This relieved the town from all danger. Every- 
thing returned to its usual quiet, and the next day the Russian 
families returned to their houses from the fortress. 

It is a curious incident of this siege that before it began, 
Mullah Maaruf, the Bek of Makhram, passed a day and a night 
in the town in disguise. It was well known among the natives, 
but no one told the Russians. When General Kaufmann 
arrived, he reproached Baron Nolde with his cowardice, and a 
Commission was appointed to judge him for abandoning his 
post. But at the end of the campaign this was all forgotten. 
This Commission, as well as another investigating charges of 
extortion and corruption, was dismissed ; and Baron Nolde 
received a gold-mounted sabre, with the inscription ' For 
Bravery,' and was presented for the cross of St. George. 

Twenty-five miles to the south of Hodjent, at Kokine-sai, 
are some coal mines belonging to Colonel Fovitsky, which are 
still worked to some extent in spite of the difficulties of 
transporting the coal through the mountains, its consequent 
high price, and the small quantity which is used. The question 
of coal supply is one of great importance for the development 
of this region, as at present almost the only fuel used by the 
Russians is wood derived from the fruit and mulberry trees, 
which results in the destruction of the gardens. Even before 
the capture of Tashkent Lieutenant-Colonel Tatarinof was sent 
to seek for coal, and discovered some layers of it in the 
neighbourhood ofTchimkent. Since that time the Government 
has spared neither money nor pains to discover good coal fields. 
It seems however, that the ideas as to the mineral wealth of 
Turkistan are as delusive as are those of its agricultural yr 
commercial importance. A small seam of coal was found near 
Hodjakent, about fifty miles from Tashkent, but it was difficult 
to work, and the coal was of poor quality. It cost, delivered 
at Tashkent, twenty-five kopeks per pud, and although seven 
kopeks cheaper than the Tatarinof coal, was, owing to its 


inferior quality, much less economical for heating purposes. 
An effort was made in Tashkent to accustom the natives to the 
use of coal by distributing it to them gratuitously ; but they 
were either suspicious of this, or were satisfied with the small 
fires which they made of wood and dung, and could not be pre- 
vailed upon to use it to any extent. The Tatarinof coal field 
is on the upper part of the Boroldai, at fifty miles from 
Tchimkent, 134 miles from Tashkent, and at an equal distance 
from the landing on the Syr Darya at the mouth of the Arys. 
These mines were worked for a time at Government expense. 
In 1868 2,900,000 lbs. were obtained from these mines, of 
which 1,620,000 lbs. were furnished to vessels of the Aral 
flotilla. In 1869 3,216,000 lbs. were obtained, but the con- 
sumption by the Aral flotilla was less, being only 1,440,000 lbs. 
while 360,000 lbs. were sent to Tashkent. The consump- 
tion, and therefore the quantity dug up, from this time 
diminished, and the working of the mines has now ceased, after 
having cost the Government a considerable sum of money. 
The product of Colonel Fovitsky's mine increased from 100,000 
lbs. in 1868 to 1,400,000 lbs. in 1871, the work being carried 
on only about three months during the year. The number of work- 
men employed varied from 1,150 to 1,750. The actual cost 
of the coal in 1871 was 5^ kopeks (2d.) per pud of 36 lbs. 
Its transport to Hodjent cost twelve kopeks (4t£.), and to Ura- 
tepe twenty kopeks (5d.). 

In 1874, Professor Eomanofsky, of the Imperial School of 
Mines, was sent on a tour of investigation through Turkistan. 
His reports to General Kaufman give a very bad show for the 
mineral wealth of the country. In respect to coal his con- 
clusions are substantially the following. 

In the mountains of Kara-tau, although only in the south 
eastern part, there appear the upper strata of the carboniferous 
period, that is carboniferous limestone (bergkalk), but there 
is no appearance of the lower or true coal-producing strata. 
The coal found in the districts of Hodjent, Kurama and 
Tchimkent does not belong to the oldest carboniferous strata, 
but to that of the Jurassic period, being brown coal, and is 
usually found in the upper parts of small side valleys in the 
mountains in small separated fields, lying in places which it is 
impossible to reach with vehicles. The coal is useful only for 


fuel and for smith work, but is utterly useless for metallurgic 
operations which require a strong heat, as, for instance, the 
reduction of iron ore. The coal fields at present discovered 
cannot be profitably worked for the following reasons : the 
friability of the coal ; the difficulty of its transport through 
the mountains ; and the small size of the coal fields, which 
are of a bad quality at the edges, and are much broken up 
by veins of rock, as, for example, the mine3 of Tatarinof, 
which on this account are not worth further working ; the un- 
certain character of the deposit in extent and thickness. 
Geological investigations show that it is useless to work coal 
fields situated at the tops of the mountains, or in deep valleys and 
ravines, on account of their small size and the uneven distribution 
of the coal. These islands of the coal formation are probably parts 
of a great coal field which extends throughout the valley of the 
Syr Darya, and have been elevated to their present positions by 
the convulsions of nature which formed the mountain ranges. It 
is probable that the coal fields lie immediately under the tertiary 
limestones, the clays containing remains of fossil molluscs and 
the calcareous sandstones. It is likely that good localities 
for coal would be found (1 ) in the valley of Bebalma, twenty miles 
south of Hodjent, (2) twenty miles north-north-west of Tashkent, 
and three or four miles north-west of the village of Kaplan-bek ; 
(3) in the valley fifteen to twenty-five miles north-east of the 
station Akjar (twenty miles from Tashkent), and (4) on the right 
bank of the river Sasyk opposite the limestone mountains Aktash, 
five or six miles north-north-west of Tchimkent. In these places 
the upper strata of the tertiary have disappeared, and it would 
only be necessary to bore through the lower tertiary strata, 
which are of an indeterminate thickness, in order to reach the 
strata which Mr. Eomanofsky surmises are carboniferous. 

The boring necessary to ascertain the truth of this theory 
of the existence of a large coal field in the basin of the Syr 
Darya would entail considerable expense. Reports had been 
made of the existence of coal and coal shales not far from 
Samarkand, but Mr. Eomanofsky, on going to the places 
indicated, was unable to perceive any trace of them. 

The richest mineral is lead ore ; and in the Kara-tau moun- 
tains, on the Kon-kia river near Turkistan, there are lead mines 
which have long been worked by the natives. The most flourish- 
vol. i. v 


ing period was during the Russian advance in Central Asia, when 
it became necessary for the Khokandian Government to strain 
every nerve for "defence.The work was conducted with great waste. 
Surface ore was taken and then only the softest and richest, and 
this was smelted in such a way as to leave fully thirty-one per cent, 
of metal in the slag. After the Russian occupation the natives 
found it unprofitable longer to work these mines, and sold 
them to the merchant Pervushin. From this ore, which is 
very rich, being a mixture of galena with white lead ore, Mr. 
Pervushin in 1869 smelted out about 11,000 lbs. while the 
Kirghiz by their primitive method smelted but 3,200 lbs. The 
work at these mines, which was somewhat difficult, has now 
stopped. At Karamazar, in the district of Kurama, twenty 
miles north-east of Hodjent, there are several parallel veins 
of very pure galena. An investigation of these was made by 
Mr. Romanofsky, and he estimated that if fuel could be 
obtained at not more than twenty kopeks per pud, and there 
could be guaranteed a yearly sale of 28,500 puds at one ruble 
and a half per pud for twenty-four years, it would be possible 
to work these mines at a profit of 48,470 rubles a year ; but 
during the first three years it would be necessary to spend on 
the mines 88,500 rubles, and after that 35,500 rubles a year. 
Red and brown iron ores and iron ochre are often found, as well 
as traces of copper ore in the form of green copper in mountain- 
ous localities. It is impossible, however, to work them, in 
consequence of the difficulty of access to the places where the 
ore is found, and to the absence of any suitable fuel. 

Gold is found in very minute quantities in the Upper 
Zarafshan, as well as on the Upper Tchirtchik, but not in 
quantities sufficient to pay for working. It was in consequence 
of the rumours of the abundance of gold on the Amu Darya 
that Peter the Great made his movement toward Central Asia, 
by sending Prince Bekovitch-Tcherkaski to Khiva in order to 
ascend the Amu Darya, and Captain Buchholtz through 
southern Siberia to Irketi or Yarkand. Buchholtz never 
penetrated to Yarkand, but succeeded in establishing the 
Russian power on the middle Irtysh. 

Near the lead mines of Karamazar, as well as in one or 
two other localities not far from Hodjent, turquoises have been 
discovered, but so far only those have been found which lie on 


the surface and are of a greenish hue, although it is deemed 
possible that by following these veins to a greater depth pure 
turquoises of real value might be discovered. Near Samgar, 
to the north-east of Hodjent, there are mines of rock salt which 
' were formerly worked. Possibly boring might lay bare new veins. 
About twenty-five miles from Namangan at Mai-Bulak, 
(oil-spring) there are abundant springs of naphtha, which have 
evidently long been worked both by Kalmuks and Kirghiz, who 
have even been able to prepare asphalt from the naphtha. By 
means of the river, naphtha from these wells could easily be sent 
to Hodjent, if not to Tashkent, in quantities far surpassing 
any present demand. The merchant Feodorof obtained a 
concession for working these wells from the Khan of Khohand 
on payment of ten per cent, as duty, but as far as I can learn 
work has not yet been begun there. 1 

On leaving Hodjent we were obliged to cross the Syr Darya 
. in a large boat. A wooden bridge was at that time being con- 
structed by a Mr. Flavitsky, a retired artillery officer, and is now 
finished and opened to traffic. This gentleman succeeded in 
making a contract with the authorities, by which the ferry 
tolls during the construction of the bridge, and the bridge 
tolls, for thirty years, were made over to him. 

In the steppes and gravelly plains of this part of the Syr 
Darya there are enormous lizards (Stellio Lehmanni), two of which 
I saw in captivity at Hodjent. They were about four feet long, 
of a dark greyish brown colour, and greatly resembling a small 
crocodile, except that the jaws were much shorter. They 
seemed to be quite harmless, and their owner was unable to 
ascertain on what they lived. He had had several of them, 
and after keeping them two or three weeks, they always dis- 
appeared ; whether they died, or ran away, he was unable 
to tell. After making three stations through a hilly country 
and an elevated steppe, we descended into the lowlands, 
watered by the Angren (or Agengeran) and Tchirtchik, with 
their numerous branches and irrigating canals. The fields, 

1 After what I have stated above, it is perhaps hardly necessary for me to say 
that the account of the mineral wealth Central Asia in the ' Geographical Maga- 
zine' for January, 1875, based on the exaggerated reports of Mr. Feodorof, a 
mining speculator, must be taken with some allowances. 

T 2 


which were chiefly planted with rice, were everywhere covered 
with water, and beside« that, there were great overflows from 
+ he rivers. At this time of year, the end of May, the roads 
were detestable, and we had at times great difficulty in getting 
through the marshy land. Once we were detained an hour in 
crossing a small canal not more than fifteen feet wide, where 
a bridge had been carried away. The post-horses were unruly, 
and we had at last to send to a neighbouring village on the 
other side for the aksakal, who furnished us with horses and 
men to get the carriage across. A few miles further, and we 
came to the town of Piskent (also Biskent and Pskent), 
situatd on a high steep river bank. Many of the houses and 
balconies projected over the bank, supported by beams ; and 
I can imagine that the palace of Baber's father at Akhsi was 
built in this way over the Syr Darya, when he was precipitated 
into the river with his pigeon-house and all his pigeons. 
Piskent is a thriving little town, chiefly noted for the immo- 
rality of its inhabitants, and for being the birth-place of Yakub 
Khan, the Amir of Kashgar, one of whose wives and many of 
whose relatives still reside there. We went on through a small 
fertile country, seeing peasants everywhere ploughing and 
harrowing their fields, until we arrived at the main river 
Tchirtchik, which we had great difficulty in crossing. It here 
divides into seven or eight branches, some of which are four or 
five feet deep, and the current is always very rapid. Guards of 
Kirghiz are stationed here with carts to assist travellers over 
the streams. It has long been the aim of the Russians to 
facilitate communication by building a bridge over this river, 
but the difficulties have been very great. 

The history of this bridge is a singular one. The rich and 
influential natives petitioned the governor to allow them to con- 
struct a bridge at this point. Permission was at first given, but 
subsequently one of the Russian engineers handed in a proposi- 
tion to construct the bridge at the expense of the treasury. He 
estimated the cost at 42,000 rubles. The permission was then 
withdrawn from the natives, on the ground that they had not the 
necessary technical knowledge, and the matter was giveli to a 
specialist, who seemed to have even less. What he constructed 
in one summer was carried away by the floods of the next spring, 
and be demanded y,000 rubles more. This was insufficient, and 


still moiv was paid, when the bridge was again carried away. 
Up to the autumn of 1874, 65,000 rubles had been spent on 
the bridge, and it is even yet incomplete. 1 

On the other side of the Tchirtchik is Kuiluk, a small 
village but the residence of the Prefect of the district of 
Kurama. He has here a fine house, almost a palace, with 
large gardens and well-kept grounds, which he makes no pre- 
tence of keeping up on his salary of 2,400 rubles. All this 
and much more is provided for him out of the district funds, 
although by virtue of what law it would be difficult to ascertain. 
The funds for this and for similar purposes are supposed to be 
freely voted by the representatives of the inhabitants ; but they, 
while nominally elected, are in reality appointed by the prefect, 
or by his creatures, and they are given from time to time 
documents and resolutions written in Eussian, to which they 
are ordered to put their seals or signatures. These papers are 
seldom if ever translated to them, although an explanation of 
some sort may be given. To avoid any possible difficulty in 
the future, however, the official interpreter, when he has time, 
writes a translation in Turki on the opposite page of the record 

This region is the district of Kurama, and it is the richest 
and most populous after that of the Zarafshan. Besides pure 
Uzbeks and Kirghiz, a great part of the population is of a 
mixed breed of uncertain origin, called Kurama. The natives 
say that this country was settled by fragments and deserters of 
all the tribes which formerly inhabited Central Asia. 

The quantity of land irrigated by the Angren and the 
Tchirtchik is at best but limited, and a large portion of the 
inhabitants therefore devote themselves to stock raising. It is 
not customary here to stable the cattle for the winter, or to 
provide them with hay. For the winter pasture a place must 
therefore be chosen where the wind is not too violent, so 
that the cattle may not suffer from the cold, and where the 
snow does not lie too deep to prevent them from finding the 
stubble and the young grass underneath. The horses are sent 
out first of all, because with their hard hoofs they remove the 
snow so much better. They are followed by the horned cattle, 

1 See 'Golos,' September 24 (October 6), 1874. 


by the sheep, and then by the camels. The best wintering places 
are along the banks of the Syr Darya, or in the north-eastern 
part of the district in the upper regions of the river Keles, 
which are excellent pasture grounds in summer. It is estimated 
that in the district of Kurama there are 33,000 camels, 60,000 
feorses, 53,000 cattle, and about 700,000 sheep ; but these figures 
are probably very much less than the real ones, for although in 
1870, on account of the extreme heat in the summer, and the 
sudden cold in the winter, there was great mortality among the 
cattle, — more than 250,000 head perished, — it did not seem to 
produce any appreciable effect upon the well-being of the in- 
habitants. At the average prices of 3 rubles for a sheep, 15 
rubles for a horned beast, 30 rubles for a horse, and 50 rubles 
for a camel, the value of the live stock, according to these 
figures in the district of Kurama, would be 6,300,000 rubles 

The sheep are either with kurdiuks and without tails, of 
with tails and without kurdiuks. In Bukhara there is another 
breed of sheep^ somewhat smaller, with grey wool, called Arabi 
(Arabian). The kurdiuk is a protuberance of pure fat growing 
out of the rump, and is sometimes very large ; but the stories 
about sheep having such fat tails as to be obliged to carry 
them on wheels, is an exaggeration of some story-teller, 
coming down, like all Joe Millers, from most ancient times. 
One day I made the Kushbegi of Bukhara laugh heartily 
at this story, which had been gravely related by one of my 

Until 1873 no regular system of meteorological observations 
had been undertaken in Central Asia, and it is therefore difficult 
to obtain accurate information with regard to the climate. 
Private observers, however, have kept registers of the tempe- 
rature in various places, and from these it is possible to obtain 
some general ideas of it. In general the climate, especially in 
the northern zone, is to a marked extent what is called ' con- 
tinental,' that is, having extreme heat in summer, and extreme 
cold in winter. Eoughly speaking, the territory of the district 
of Turkistan may be divided into four climatic zones. 

The northern zone, extending south about 45 degrees north 
latitude, includes the lower course of the Syr Darya to Fori 
No. 2 and the lower course of the Hi. The climate here is iv 


general cold, and apricots and vines do not grow. At the 
western extremity of Kazala, the average temperature is 43*2 
degrees Fahr. ; while at the eastern extremity, Kopal, the mean 
temperature of the year is 45*5 degrees. Snow remains en the 
ground for about three months, although on the lower Syr 
Darya it is constantly drifted by a violent wind from the north 
and west. The summer at Kazala lasts about five months 
without rain, and is exceedingly hot. At that place, taking an 
average of 19 years, the Syr Darya has been covered with ice 
for 123 days in the year, or from December 3 to April 5. At 
Kopal the summer heat is moderated by the snow-covered 
mountains in the immediate vicinity, and the western wind 
blowing from Lake Balkash. 

The apricot zone lies next to the south, and includes 
Perovsky, Turkistan, Aulie-ata and Vierny. At Vierny the 
mean temperature for the year 1861, the only one of which 
there is any record, was 44-6 degrees. Grapes ripen in Vierny, 
but they are of an inferior quality to 'those farther south. 
The winter is here shorter than in the northern zone, but the 
winds blow with as much violence. At Perovsky and Julek the 
prevailing wind is north-west, from the Aral Sea. At Aulie-ata 
a north-easterly wind prevails, and all along the northern side 
of the Alexandrofsky range the wind is very violent. At 
Vierny there is generally a north-westerly wind from Lake 
Balkash. At Perovsky an experience of seven years has shown 
that the river is covered with ice on an average 97 days, from 
December 19 to March 26. The winter may be compared to 
that of Central Germany, although the cold sometimes reaches 
30 degrees below zero Fahr., and in summer the thermometer 
has marked in the shade over 99 degrees Fahr. 

The peach and almond zone includes Mankent, Tchimkent, 
Tashkent, Tokmak, the district of Kuldja, Ura-tepe, Jizakh, 
and the district of the Zarafshan. From Tashkent southwards, 
grape-vines do not have to be covered in winter. The district 
of Kuldja, although lying far to the north, is protected on every 
side by high mountains, which accounts for its comparatively 
high temperature, the yearly average of which is 48*5 degrees 
Fahr. It is possible therefore to raise apricots, peaches, grapes, 
pomegranates, and other tender fruit. The yearly average of 
the temperature at Tashkent, as observed at the Chemical 


Laboratory in 1872-73-74, was respectively 56*3°, 56*1°, and 
55-9°, with the barometer at 722-24°, 722.4°, and 723-1°. The 
temperature at Tashkent in February is similar to that at 
Sevastopol, and in July to that of Derbend. The winter is 
short ; snow falls for about a month, but quickly melts. The 
winter of 1871-2 was considered very remark ible, because the 
snow remained on the ground for a month and a half. The 
cold in winter sometimes reaches 6 degrees below zero Fahr., 
and the heat in summer 110 degrees in the shade. The winter, 
however, is accompanied with a great deal of rain, which begins 
to fall in October, and lasts till March. There are seldom any 
violent winds. 

The fourth zone comprises the valley of Hodjent and all 
the small mountain valleys south of 42 degrees of latitude. 
Here, even pistachio trees can grow. The winter is milder than 
at Tashkent, and the Syr Darya rarely freezes. The summer is 
much longer, and fruits ripen two weeks earlier than in Tash- 
kent, or in Jizakh and Ura-tepe. Pistachio trees will grow as 
far as 3,500 feet above the level of the sea ; wild peaches reach 
4,000 feet, wild almonds 4,500, apricots 5,000, and wild apples 
6,500 feet. 1 

Since the Khivan Expedition, a meteorological observatory 
has been established at Nukus, on the Amu Darya, but only 
observations from July to November in 1874 have been published. 
The temperature during these months was about the same as at 
Tashkent, the highest point reached by the mercury being 
107*4 degrees. It would be interesting to investigate the old 
writers to see what changes the climate of Central Asia has 
undergone. Baber, in the winter of 1502, speaks of the 
intense cold, and of crossing the Syr Darya on the ice near 
Hodjent, and in another place says that his father led his army 
across the river Arys on the ice, and defeated the Uzbeks. 

Earthquakes are very common throughout Central Asia, 
especially in the mountainous districts, and it has been re- 
marked that they most frequently occur in March, or about 
the time of the vernal equinox. As this is the time of the begin- 
ning of the new year, it has become a belief among many that 
the new year cannot really begin until an earthquake has been 

f 8ee an article on the subject in the ' Ttrrk : stan Gazette ' for 187?, No 12. 


i'elt, and it is said that some Sarts even stick a knife slightly 
info the ground, and do not celebrate the new year's feast until 
the knife has been shaken down. One of the most violent 
earthquakes of recent times was on April 4, 1S68, at 2.20. A.M. 
It lasted two minutes, and at Tashkent overthrew many houses, 
killing 20 persons. In 1869, at 5.20. a.m. on March 25 th^re 
was also a very noticeable earthquake, and in 1870 there wai 
another on March 10. At Tashkent there are on an average 
five earthquakes a year, but many of them are so slight that 
they are scarcely noticed. 

Where so many races have met as in Central Asia, there is 
naturally a conflict in the modes of computing time. Three 
calendars are in habitual use — the ordinary Mussulman reli- 
gious calendar, with its lunar year ; an agricultural solar year ; 
and the Kirghiz calendar ; and to these has now been added 
a fourth, the Julian in the Eussian form with a new series of 

The Mohammedan lunar year, Kamariya, is well known ; but 
the solar year, Shamsiya, of 365 days, beginning at the vernal 
equinox, with twelve months named from the signs of the Zodiac, 
has never, as far as I can learn, been thoroughly investigated. 
This year is habitually used by all agriculturists, it being the 
only computation of time by which they can know when to till 
their ground and sow their crops. 

The names of the months in common use are the Arabic 
names for the signs of the Zodiac, as follows : (I give the 
pronunciation there heard) Harriot, Aries ; Saur, Taurus ; 
Jauza, Gemini; Saratan, Cancer; A sad, Leo; Sumbirfa 
(Sambla) Virgo; Mizan, Libra; Ahhrab, Scorpio; Kaus, 
Sagittarius ; Jadi, Capricorn us ; Dalu, Aquarius ; and Hut, 
Pisces. As these names are not all entirely intelligible to the 
people, one or two of them are otherwise explained. 

For instance, Jauza is connected with the word jauz, a 
nut ; Saratan is called an insect resembling a death-watch, as 
crabs are there unknown ; Sumbula is explained as a beard 
of rye; and Dalu, aquarius, is simply a water-pail. With 
the natural desire of simple people to find reasons for words 
in common use, explanations are given to each of these names. 

-Thus, the first month, it is said, is called Hamal, because 


the sheep then get their fill of green meat; the second month, 
Saur, because cattle can find sufficient pasture ; Jauza is so- 
called because it is then warm enough for children to play in 
the street with nuts and pebbles ; in Sar atari the death-watch 
appears in the houses and does harm ; in Asad lions do not go 
out of their dens ; Surnbula, the beard of rye, is the month of 
harvest ; in Mizan, the balances, the days and nights are equal ; 
in Akhrab, the scorpions hide themselves ; in Kaus, it is no 
harm to kill game ; Jadi is an excellent month for goats ; 
in Dalu water freezes, and it is impossible to use it without 
employing a pail ; while the last month, Hut, is the best of al 1 
for eating fish. 

At Tashkent these months are given 30 and 31' days alter- 
nately ; the last, Hut, having only 29 days in ordinary years : 
but in Samarkand and Bukhara, another mode of calculation is 
adopted, which is kept in mind by means of a distich : 

La u la, lab, la u la, la, shash mahast, 
Lai kat u kat lal, shuhuri kutast. 

In the Arabic alphabet I stands for 30, a for 1, 6 for 2, h for 
20, and t for 9, and giving the combinations of letters their 
numerical meanings (the vowels in the last line being un- 
written and therefore without force) these lines would read, 
' Thirty-one and thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-one and thirty- 
one thirty-one, six months ; two thirties twenty-nine and 
twenty-nine two thirties, short months. The same distich for 
remembering the number of days in a month is common in 
Persia, where this solar calendar is also in use by the agri- 
cultural classes and is employed by the government for the 
collection of taxes. It will be seen that the number of days 
given to the Zodiacal months differ somewhat from the number 
of days during which the sun actually remains in each sign of 
the Zodiac ; these being, beginning with Aries, 31, 31, 31, 31, 
32, 31, 30, 30, 29, 30, 30, and 29 respectively. An intercalary 
day is inserted once in four years at the end of the last month 
Hut. The first day of the year, as in Persia, is called Nauruz, 
new year, and is always a popular festival. 

In searching for previous mention of these Zodiacal months, 
I find them frequently used for dates in ' The History of the 
Moguls' of Abul G-hazi, Khan of Khiva, who wrote in 1663. 


There can be no doubt here that the names Saratan, Hut, &c, 
are used as true month-appellations, although commentators 
seem to have overlooked the fact, probably ascribing the use of 
the Zodiacal signs to a mere freak of the author. El Maqrizi, 
who wrote in the beginning of the fifteenth century, in a passage 
about Egypt, speaks of this solar year, and calls it Haradjia, or 
the Haradj year, referring probably to its use there as now in 
Persia, for collecting the taxes. Going much farther back, we 
find in the Almagest of Ptolemy seven observations of Mercury, 
Mars and Jupiter, between 272 and 241 B.C., which are referred 
to a special era called that of Dionusos and to the months 
Tauron, Didumon, Leonton, Parthenon, Scorpion, Aigon, and 
Hudron, which are evidently named from the signs of the Zodiac, 
showing that such a calendar was then in use. The Arabic names 
for the signs of the Zodiac were translated from the Greek. 
There has been much discussion as to the origin of the Greek 
names ; but it has now been conclusively proved by Assyrio- 
logists that they were derived either directly, or through Egypt, 
from the names given by the Chaldean and Babylonian astrono- 
mers. We find from the labours of these scholars that the 
Chaldeans and Babylonians had with regard to the twelve 
months of the year myths coming down from very early times, 
which were localised by them in the different epochs of the 
year when they already inhabited the plains of the Euphrates 
and the Tigris, in accordance not with agricultural occupa- 
tions, but with the great periodical phenomena of the atmo- 
sphere and the phases of the annual circuit of the sun as it 
appeared in that region. The months received names corres- 
ponding to these myths, such as the month of the favourable 
bull ; the month of the construction of bricks ; the month of the 
seizer of the harvest; the month of the burning fire ; the month of 
the messenger of the goddess Tstar, which were usually shortened 
into expressions such as the month of the bull, of the bricks, of 
the seizer, of fire, of the messenger ; and in accordance with these 
legends were designed the symbolic figures given to the solar 
'mansions' in the Zodiac. In the cuneiform inscriptions we 
find the signs of the Zodiac exactly the same as those now in 
use, except that Virgo is replaced by the archeress, that is 
the Goddess Istar ; Libra by the Scorpion's claws ; Sagittarius 
by the arrow ; and Aquarius by the pail : the last two being 


the same now in use in Central Asia. 1 It woild tnus seem 
that the solar calendar, or the Shamsiya year, now under 
consideration, has a very high origin ; in all probability it 
has remained in these regions of Central Asia since the 
times of their earliest colonisation, or rather the introduction 
of the civilisation of the Assyrians, or of their Iranian suc- 

It is to be regretted that such a sensible calendar will pro- 
bably be replaced by that of the Russians, which is already 
twelve days out of its reckoning, and the correction of which 
will for some time be prevented by a superstitious reverence for 
church festivals, it being thought that the peasants would be 
unwilling to lose twelve saints' days and consequent holidays 
out of one year. It is still more to be regretted that Europe, 
from a traditional reverence for the beginning of the Christian 
religious year, should have changed the beginning of the civil 
year from March, its natural beginning near the time of the 
vernal equinox, to January. 2 

The ordinary word used by the Sarts for the week is hafta, 
the Persian for seven ; while the Kirghiz and nomads usually 
call it aina. The usual names for the days are principally 
of Persian origin. Jumma, the day of prayer, is Friday; 
Shambe, evidently a corruption of.Shabat, or Sabbath, is Satur- 
day ; 3 then come Yakshambe, Sunday ; Dushambe, Sishambey 
Tcharshambe and Peshambe ; that is, the first day after Shambe 

1 • Les Premieres Civilisations,' par Francois Le Normant, ii. 67. Paris, 1874. 

2 It is curious that the reformed calendar made under the Sultan Jelal-Eddin 
Malik Shah in 1079, and which is still the official calendar in Persia, was more 
exact than the Gregorian reform. • The mean year has 3652422 days, the inter- 
calation of Aloyse Lilio gives an error of 3 days in 10,000 years, while this error 
would be only 2 days with the Persian intercalation. We are bound to say that 
the astronomers of Malik Shah were much nearer the truth. Instead of adopting 

7 4'8 39 

uniformly 8 bissextiles in 33 years, they established the period — + = — _ 

J J 3 V 29 433 161 

that is, that they counted 39 bissextiles in 161 years. This period ghes for the 

mean year 3652422 days, precisely the same as that of our modern tables 

' Prolegomenes des Tables Astronomiques d'Oloug-Beg, Notes et eclaircissements,' 

p. 235. Paris, 1847. 

8 It is curious that not only the institution of the sabbath as a day of rest, 

but the word sabbath itself is probably of Assyrian origin. See a letter of 

Professor A. H. Sayce in ' The Academy' for November 27, 1875. 


or the Sabbath, the second clay after Shambe, and so on. 1 
Among the Kirghiz it is very common instead of Yakshamb4 
to say Bazaar, as most of the bazaars are open on that day. 

The Kirghiz have no era by which to date their years, but 
use the twelve-year period which they call Mutchal, or Milshel, 
originally introduced from China by the Mongols. Each of the 
years in this period is named after an animal, and they are 
ranged in the following order : Mouse, Ox, Leopard, Hare, Fish, 
Serpent, Horse, Sheep, Ape, Fowl, Dog, Hog. The same cycle 
is also used among the Sarts and Persians, by whom it is placed 
in all official documents and proclamations. I have before me 
a Persian official almanac for the year 1874-5, which is marked 
for the year of the Dog, and bears on each cover a representa- 
tion of that animal. The present year is that of the Hog. If 
a Kirghiz should be asked how old he is, he would seldom tell 
the number of years, but for example would simply say, ' My 
year is that of the Horse,' leaving you to guess how many 
twelve-year cycles back he was born ; or if he wished to be more 
precise he would add, ' and I am in the third Mutchal,' which, 
supposing the question to be asked in 1875, would make him 
out to be thirty years of age. No attention is paid to the day 
of the birth, and therefore everybody who is born in the same 
year is considered to be of the same age. The Kirghiz word for 
year, jil, means not only a whole year, but also half a year ; so 
that sometimes a Kirghiz, seeing your difficulty in calculating 
the Mutchal, will tell you that he has so many jils, and thus 
apparently make himself out twice as old as he really is, he 
taking the jil as half a year and you as a year. The Kirghiz 
have a legend that when the animals came up in procession to 
have the years named after them, the camel, as the noblest oi 
all, came first, but that a mouse crept up on his head and suc- 
ceeded in getting the first year named after himself, so that 
thus the camel was entirely omitted. 

Besides the twelve years' cycle, or Mutchal, there is another 
called Karn, which was explained to me as being thirty-six 

1 The Russian names for the days show something similar. Ponedyelnik, 
Monday, means the day coming immediately after Nedyela (literally, without 
work), the old name for Sunday, but now used as a general term for the week, the 
word Voskresenye, resurrection, being substituted for Sunday. 


years, or three mutchals ; but more probably this word, which 
is of Arabic origin, meaning a member or a horn, is used as we 
would use age or generation. The Kirghiz year, like that of the 
settled inhabitants, begins with the feast of Nauruz at the vernal 
equinox, and is divided into twelve solar months, which are 
usually known by the zodiacal names I have just mentioned. 
A solar month is called Yulduz, or constellation, while a lunar 
month is called Ai, or moon ; and this is divided into two parts, 
the Yang-ai, new moon, and Isk-ai, old moon. The winter 
months are frequently called after a complicated system, which 
it would seem very difficult to apply. The first month of winter 
is that when on the eleventh day of the month the moon is 
equal with the Pleiades, Ur-kar, and is therefore called On-bir- 
tugush, that is, the eleventh conjunction. The second month 
of winter, when the moon and the Pleiades are together on the 
ninth day, is called Tokuz-tugush (ninth conjunction) ; in the 
third month, Yedv-tugush, they are together on the seventh 
day ; in the fourth month, Bish-tugush, they are together on 
the fifth day ; in the fifth month, Utch-tugush, on the third 
day ; and in the sixth month, Bir-tugush, on the first day. 
Besides these the simple folk, instead of months, give names to 
certain times of the year, chiefly according to various events of 
steppe life, as the lambing season ; the mare-milking season ; 
May, the rainy time, which lasts for about a fortnight about 
the end of May and the beginning of June ; Tchilde, the sub- 
sequent forty days (of heat) ; the sheep-shearing season ; and 
the slaughtering season. It would be interesting to make a 
careful comparison of the Kirghiz names of the months with 
those of* the Altai, Shor, and Kommandin Tartars, part of which 
are given by EadlofF in his ' Journey through the Altai,' * where 
we ind such denominations as white month, wind month, 
summer month, the great heat, old woman's month, great 
month, and small month. The Tunguses, as well as the Altai 
Tartars, have a year of thirteen lunar months named in this 
way after the phases of nature and the occupations of a regular 
life, and even in more highly cultivated societies, as in America 
and England, country people refer events to the natural calendar 

1 Erman's ' Archiv far Wissenschaftliehe Kunde von Rusek..\ vd. xxiii 
p. 261. 


in which sowing-time, haying time, and harvest are strongly 
marked seasons. 

The day, from sunrise until sunset, is divided into four 
parts, called sunrise, eating time, mid-day, and sunset In 
general the Kirghiz know well the stars, for these assist them 
not only in calculating time, but also in finding their way over 
the steppes. The Polar star is called Temir Kazyk, the iron 
pole ; the Great Bear, Jitti Karaktchi, the seven robbers ; and 
the Milky Way, Saman yul, the straw road, or Kiik gaz yul, 
the path of the wild geese. 




Khokand, or the Valley of Fergana, was included among the pro- 
vinces given bj Tchinghiz Khan to his son Jagatai, and shared 
the general fate of the countries of Maverannahr. We know its 
condition as an appanage to the throne of Samarkand during the 
time of Baber ; and after that it was sometimes rebellious, some- 
times conquered, sometimes in the possession of this or that prince, 
and does not emerge as a separate and independent country until 
toward the beginning of the present century. No written historical 
account of the country by a native author has yet seen the light, 
and what we know of its modern history is derived chiefly from 
traditions and oral accounts, strengthened here and there by 
numismatic and documentary evidence. 

Both popular tradition and the Chinese accounts agree that in 
the middle of the last century Khokand was not under one rule, 
but was divided into separate cities, provinces and clans, each 
with its own Bek or Hodja. According to the account of Mahsum 
Hodja, quoted by Ritter, 1 some time in the last century Shahrukh 
Bek, with some of his country people, went from the Volga region 

1 My chief authorities have been : — 

1. An article, ' Description of the Khanate of Khokand in its present condi- 
tion,' published in the ' Memoirs of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society/ 
Book IIL 1849. 

2. An article by V. Veliaminof-Zernof, ' Historical Information about the 
Khanate of Khokand from Mohammed Ali to Khudayar Khan,' published in the 
• Labours of the Oriental Section of the Imperial Archfeological Society.' Vol. ii. 

3. ' Contemporary coins of Khohand,' by V. Grigorief ; ibid. 

4. ' List of known coins of Khokand,' by A. Savelief ; ibid. 

5. An article by the Kirghiz Sultan, Nurekin, ' Sketches of the History of 
YOL. I. Z 


to Fergana, and married the daughter of Ediger Hodja, the ruler 
of the town of Khurram-Sarai, and then settled with his Uzbeki 
in Kukan, twelve miles west of the present Khokand. He then 
murdered his father-in-law, and made himself ruler of the district, 
and, profit nig by the dissensions and weakness of his neighbours, 
soon extended his sway. He was succeeded by his eldest son 
Rahim Bek, and he by his brother Abdul Kerim Bek, who built 
the present city of Khokand, to which he transferred his residence. 
He was succeeded by his nephew Irdana, or Erdeni, son of Rahim, 
(according to some a son of Abdul Kerim). The Chinese 
geographer 1 says that the Beks of all the other towns in Fergana 
were under the rule of Erdeni Bek, and obeyed his orders. In 
1750, the Chinese General Tchao-hoei was in pursuit of Khodzidjan, 
and detached some officers to put down the Buruts. Erdeni enter- 
tained these officers in Khokand, and when they departed, sent one 
of his officials to tender his submission to the Emperor Khian-lung. 
The other Beks, among them Tokto Mohammed of Andijan, and Has 
Ping-li (Kuli ?) of Marghilan, followed his example, and, in 1760, sent 
embassies and tribute to Pekin, Tokto Mohammed going thither in 
person. Among the gifts sent to the Chinese Emperor, were ' horses 
that sweat blood (argamaks 2 ), great eagles and falcons for hunting, 
and plates of the fountain of the dragon.' Tashkent had submitted 
to China in 1758. In 1762, Erdeni invaded the country of Oshi 
(Ush), which belonged to Adzi Bii, but was ordered by the Chinese 
Governor- General to withdraw his troops. In 1763, there was 
another invasion of the country of the Buruts, which was blamed 
by an imperial decree. Erdeni died in 1770, and was replaced by 

Khokand from 1841 to 1864,' published in the ' Turkistan Gazette,' No. 35, 

6. The report of Mahsum Hojda, as given in Eitter's ' Erdkunde von Asien,' 
Vol. v. p. 772. 

7. The 'Memoirs of Mirza Shems,' Kazan, 1861. 

8. ' Eastern Turkistan,' by V. Grigorief ; St. Petersburg, 1873. 

9. 'The Uzbek State of Kokan' by W. H. Wathen, in the 'Journal of the 
Asiatic Society of Bengal,' August, 1834. 

10. Notices in the accounts of various travellers, such as Nazarof, Kliutcharef, 
Pospielof and Burn ash of, and Mir Izzet Ullah. 

11. Personal observation ; the Russian newspapers; official reports; private 
letters from Tashkent and Khokand ; and accounts taken down from the lips of 
Tashkentians and Khokandians, some of whom were actors in the events described. 
Some of these last have also been used by Mr. N. Petrofsky in his ' Sketches oi 
the Khanate of Khokand,' in the ' Messenger of Europe ' for October, 1875. 

1 Thai thmig y thouvg tchi, or Great Geography of Chinese Empire, edition of 
1790, sect. 420, translated by Klaproth in 'Magasin Asiatique,' vol. i. 82. 

* ' Horses sweating blood' in the early times always formed part of the tribute 
to the Chinese Emperors from the countries of Central Asia. 


his nephew, Narubutu (Narbuta), who sent an embassy and tribute 
to Pekin. 

Here contradiction begins, for Mahsum Hodja says that Erdeni 
was succeeded, after twenty years' rule, by Suleiman Bii, and 
then by Shahrukh Bek, who only reigned three months. It is 
a question, too, who Narbuta Bii was. Mahsum Hodja says that 
he was a grandson of Abdul Kerim, and apparently Abdul Kerim 
and Rahim are in some way confused. But according to local 
tradition, Narbuta Bii was the son of a certain Abdurrahman 
Batyr, an Uzbek of the tribe of Ming, and ruler of the town and 
district of Isfara, once much more important than now, and was 
descended from a certain Tchumatch Bii, a great local hero. 1 
Abdurrahman Batyr married the sister of Erdeni Bek, and was 
treacherously killed by the latter, who wished to get possession of 
Isfara. Narbuta, then a child, was spared on account of his tender 
age, and when on Erdeni's death his heirs were killed or dispersed, 
was chosen by the Khokandians to succeed him. 

Narbuta passed his whole reign in wars with his neighbours, and 
added to his dominions Andijan, Namangan and Ush, besides other 
smaller towns, which had been thitherto independent. His last years 
were occupied in a contest for the possession of Hodjent, with Fazil- 
Bii and his son Khudayar Bek, the ruler of Ura-tepe. Hodjent 
was sometimes in the possession of one party, and sometimes of 
the other, but was never permanently annexed to Khokand until 
after Narbuta' s death. Abul Gaffar Bek, 2 the grandson of 
Khudayar Bek, says, that during the reign of Fazil, Narbuta Bii 
in alliance with Rahim Bii of Bukhara, attempted to take Ura-tepe, 
but were beaten back, when Khudayar sallied out, completely 
routed them, killed 20,000 men, and made a pyramid of their heads 
in Ura-tepe. In 1799, Narbuta undertook an expedition against 
Tashkent, but was beaten and captured together with many of his 
followers by Yunus Hodja, the ruler of all that place, and in 1800 
was beheaded there. 3 Narbuta left three sons, Alim, Omar, and 
Shahrukh, of whom the eldest, Alim, succeeded him. 

1 Khanikof says that the father of Narbuta was Iamtchi Bii (probably the same 
as Tchumatch), a descendant of the Sultan Baber. Frachn, Nova Supplementa, 
p. 336. 

2 See pp. 88 and 310. 

8 See ' Travels of Pospielof and Burnashof to Tashkent,' in 1800. ' Messenger >f 
the Imperial Kussian Geographical Society,' 1851, vol. i, p. 23. Narbuta Bii is 
here called Khan Hodja, which accords with the Chinese account that the cities of 
Khokand were governed by Hodjas ; they were probably connected in some way 
with the Hodjas formerly reigning in Kashgar. In one of his notes to this journey 
Mr. Khanikof gives some information with regard to the history of Tashkent 

z 2 


After the defeat given to Narbuta Bii, Ynnns Hodja raised an 
army, including the Kirghiz tribes subject to him, and marched 
against Khokand, making a treaty with Bek Murad Bek, the son 
of Khudayar Bek, then ruling in Hod^ent, for mutual action against 
the Khokandians. The armies of Khokand and Tashkent met on 
opposite sides of the Syr Darya ; but although the fire was kept up 
for some time, it was without effect, and both armies retreated. 
Yunus Hodja, however, again took the field, with the intention of 
placing on the throne of Khokand one of the sons of Narbuta Bii, 
whom he held prisoner. In connection with Bek Murad Bek, he 
besieged Ura-tepe, but could not take it, and was obliged to 
retreat. Baba Bek of Ura-tepe, brother of Khudayar, therefore 
allied himself with Omar Khan, the second son of Narbuta Bii (who 
was apparently even then on bad terms with his brother), and suc- 
ceeded in driving Bek Murad Bek from Hodjent. Baba was subse- 

which may be an interesting addition to what I have said on pages 111-12. 
' Even in the beginning of the seventh century Tashkent, or Tchash, -was con- 
sidered as in vassalage to the Chinese. In 713, the ruler of Tashkent, who 
had thitherto been called Khan, was raised by the Chinese Emperor to the rank 
of King. In 714, he complained to the Emperor of the invasion of the Arabs 
and asked for help, but the Chinese instead of complying with this request only 
confirmed the high-sounding titles which he assumed. Soon after that a Chinese 
official was sent there to arrange the disturbances among the petty princes. The 
ruler of Tashkent submitted unconditionally, but his nephews were put to death, 
and he in consequence turned for help to the Arabs ; thus their dominion became 
established in that region. In the tenth century, according to Ibn Haukal, 
Tashkent, under the name of Khae, was one of the strongest barriers of Turkistan. 
In the beginning of the thirteenth century it belonged to the possessions of Ala- 
Eddin, the ruler of Kharezm, under the name of Binaket. Lying on the frontier, 
Tashkent was one of the first regions of Central Asia which felt the attack of the 
Mongols, and was speedily subdued. In 1390, Tashkent again appeared as an 
important military point, being the rendezvous for the army of Tamerlane on 
his second campaign against Toktamish. At the end of the fifteenth, and 
during the first years of the sixteenth centuries, Tashkent was under the rule 
of Omar Sheikh Mirza, and of his son Baber, the ruler of Khokand In the 
middle of the fifteenth century the Uzbeks, taking advantage of the dissension! 
oetween Abul Soid and Abdullatif, princes of Maverannahr, penetrated undel 
command of the latter into the district of Tashkent as well as across the Syr 
Darya, and although in 1456 Abdullatif was obliged to submit to Abul Seid yet 
the Uzbeks made use of this road under the command of Sheibani Khan for the 
complete expulsion of the Timurides from Maverannahr, among whom was Baber, 
the ruler of Fergana as well as of Tashkent, who was forced to flee to Kabul, 
^here he laid the basis for the empire of the Great Mogul in India.' 

From the reports of Kushelef and Muller, who were in Tashkent in 1789, we 
learn that at that time the city was ruled by Yulbars Khan, and that the city 
of Turkistan under Seid Sultan, was in a certain measure subject to it. This 
Yulbars, who appears not to have been a Tashkontian, but a Kirghiz Sultan, was 
killed by the Sarts on April 17th, 1740, three days after Muller had left the city. 


quently murdered by his nephew Bek Murad, in return for which Bek 
Murad was himself killed by the children of Baba Bek in Samarkand, 
whither he had been invited by the Bukharan Amir Haidar. Yunns 
Hodja, however, was finally unsuccessful, and was obliged to retreat 
to Tashkent, which city was captured by Alim Khan either in 1803 
or in 1805. He then turned his attention southwards, and took 
Ura-tepe, but having been unfortunate in a campaign against 
Jizakh, Ura-tepe was retaken by Mahmud Khan, a nephew on his 
mother's side of Khudayar Bek. Alim Khan took up his resi- 
dence for some time in Tashkent, in order to look after the ad- 
ministration of that province and put down rebellions, and was 
constantly engaged in forays against the Kirghiz. The people of 
Khokand got disgusted with the continual wars, and more than all 
others the courtiers and officials of Alim, who wished to profit by 
the wealth they had acquired. They therefore conspired to kill 
him, and to put on the throne his brother Omar. HaviDg suc- 
ceeded in getting Omar to their side, they withdrew to Khokand, 
when some of the faithful followers of Alim, getting wind of the 
conspiracy, reported it to their master, and urged him at once to 
advance to Khokand and put it down. Alim, however, was un- 
willing to believe it, and for a long time refused to take any decided 
measures, in consequence of which the band of conspirators daily 
increased. Instead of following the advice of his friends, and 
taking a round-about way, Alim insisted upon going the shortest 
way through the defiles of Kendyr-tau, where he was attacked in 
the little village of Shaitun, and was killed by a shot from a certain 
Maidan Yuldash, an adherent of Omar, who wished to find favour 
with his master. Happily he did not get the expected reward for 
his treachery, for on telling Omar of his exploit, he was himself 
immediately executed. 

The death of Alim Khan probably occurred in 1812. How 
long the sovereigns of Khokand continued to pay tribute to the 
Chinese, is unknown, but Mahsum Hodja and others say that Alim 
Khan was the first who gave himself the title of Khan, who ordered 
his name to be recited in the Khutbe, or daily prayers, and who 
coined money. Mahsum Hodja says that these coins, which were of 
bronze silvered over, were struck from old cannon, left by Nadir 
Shah at the time of his conquest. 

Omar Khan, 1 in spite of the reasons for his elevation, found it 
difficult to keep the peace with his neighbours, captured Mahmud 

1 Called also Homar and Gomar. By Mir Izzet-Ullah, probably by some 
mistranscription, lie is called Amir Khan, and by Nazarof Amir Valliami, i.e. 


Khan of Ura-tepe, sent him prisoner to Khokand, and appointed 
one of his own adherents Governor of that place. In three months 
the new Bek was turned out, and the struggle began again. After 
many changes of fortune, Jizakh fell to Bukhara, and Ura-tepe 
to Khokand, and Tiura-Bek-Yiura, the son of Mahmnd Khan, 
went to Khokand, and occupied an honorary position at the court 
of the Khan. About the same time Turkistan and several smaller 
towns to the north were conquered by the generals of Omar. The 
last descendant of the Kirghiz Khans, Tozai Khan, notwithstanding 
a brave defence, was forced to seek refuge in Bukhara, where he 
was killed in the troubles accompanying the accession of Mozaflar- 

In 1822, Omar Khan, who was greatly loved by his people, 
died, or, as it is said, was poisoned by his elder son Mohammed Ali, 
who then became Khan, and is the first of whom we have some 
detailed accounts. His name, according to a frequent custom, has 
been abbreviated to Madali Khan. His accession was accompanied 
by no revolutions, but he found it necessary to exile many of his 
relatives. His younger brother, Sultan Mahmud, escaped to Shahr- 
isabs, where he lived for many years, having married a daughter 
of its ruler. He was also in favour with the Amir Nasrullah, and 
was appointed by him for a short time Bek of Urmitan, and after 
its capture of Hodjent. 

The disagreement with Bukhara, which broke out soon after 
the accession of Madali, ended peaceably in 1825, and in the 
following year he joined Jihangyr Hodja, one of the Appak family, 
in his efforts to recover Kashgar, from the throne of which his 
ancestors had been driven by the Chinese, in 1756. Some slight, 
but bloody, skirmishes with the Chinese seemed to Madali sufficient 
to warrant the title of ' Ghazi,' or ' Conqueror of the Infidels ; ' and 
after a twelve days campaign he returned home, leaving a part of 
his troops to help Jihangyr Hodja, who succeeded in taking 
Kashgar, and making himself temporary master of the country. 
But soon a Chinese army of 70,000 men arrived and turned the 
tables. The Khokandians withdrew in time with their booty, but 
Jihangyr was captured, it is said, by the treacherous consent of 
Madali, and was sent to Pekin, where he was executed. This was 
in 1827. 

In 1828-29 there was another attempt made on Kashgar by 
Yusuf Hodja, the elder brother of Jihangyr. Madali Khan again 
lent the services of his army and of his best generals. Again 
Kashgar, Yangy-Hissar and Yarkand were taken, and again the 
Khokandians withdrew with their booty on the approach of a 
Chinese army. Yusuf Hodja escaped to Khokand, where he died 


five years afterwards. Many thousands of Kashgarians were 
massacred by the Chinese, and 70,000 took refuge in Khokand, 
where they were colonised in the city of Shahri-Khana, built by 
Omar Khan, and on the Syr Darya below Hodjent. 

On account of the depopulation of Kashgaria, and the dangers of 
constant hostile relations with Khokand, the Chinese resolved to 
resort to their former practice of buying peace and quiet, for thej 
had at one time paid a large yearly sum to Khokand for that 
purpose. A treaty was therefore readily concluded at Pekin, in 
1831, with Alim Patcha, Madali's envoy, by which the Khan of 
Khokand was to receive the duties on all foreign goods imported 
into Aksu, Ush-Turfan, Kashgar, Yangy-Hissar, Yarkand, and 
Khotan, and was allowed to maintain aksakals in all those towns 
to collect the duties and to protect the Mohammedans, and by 
which he bound himself to prevent the Hodjas from leaving his 
dominions, and to punish them if they did so. In this way Khokand 
acquired a great influence over its neighbour Kashgar. 1 

After this Madali Khan conquered Karategin, and forced 
Kulab, Darvaz, and Shugnan, to recognise his authority. In this 
way, up to 1840, Madali Khan had the reputation of a brave and 
active sovereign, and was exceedingly popular. At that time a 
sudden change came over him. He threw aside his occupations, 
ceased to think of military expeditions, and gave himself up to 
complete licentiousness. This change is supposed to have been 
due to the remorse which he felt at having murdered the Ming 
Bashi Hakk Kul, by whose intelligent counsels he had been pre- 
viously guided. 

At this time Madali received a letter from the Amir of Bukhara, 
accusing him of breaches of Mussulman law in marrying two 
sisters, and even his step-mother — one of the wives of Omar Khan 
— and upbraiding him for his licentious life. Madali was in such a 
rage that he imprisoned the envoys, had half of their heads and 
beards shaved, and gave orders for an immediate campaign. At 
the first meeting of the hostile troops Madali was cut off from his 
army, and only saved himself from capture by running away. His 
army dispersed without fighting, and the war thus ignominiously 

Soon the whole realm fell into disorder, there was general 
discontent, and a conspiracy was raised against Madali Khan with 
the aim of placing on the throne Murad Bii, the son of Alim Khan, 
or Shir Ali, the son of Hadji Bii, the brother of Narbuta. Not 
feeling themselves, however, strong enough to overturn their ruler, 

1 See ' Memoirs of Mirza Shems' and Grigoriefs ' Eastern Turkistan,' part ii 
443 460. 


the conspirators fled for assistance to Nasrullab, the Amir of 
Bukhara. Though he was most ambitions to obtain possession of 
Khokand, yet from distrust he refused to have anything to do with 
the conspirators. Not deterred by this, they tried again, and at 
last he consented to lead an attack against Khokand, and set ont 
from Bukhara in the middle of April, 1842, with an army of 18,000 
men, and in a fortnight encamped a few miles from the city of 

This sudden invasion terrified Madali Khan, and he ^ould 
think of no means to save himself but by peace, and sent out his 
eldest son, Mohammed Amir (Madamin), with other ambassadors, 
to propose to admit himself the vassal of the Amir of Bukhara, 
and to allow the Amir's name to be used in the public prayers, and 
to be stamped on the coins. The Amir received the embassy 
kindly, and sent back the prince, but afier a conversation with the 
Kush Begi Leshker, and on ascertaining that the inhabitants of 
Khokand were not disposed to defend their sovereign, but were 
ready to open the gates to him, he demanded that Madali Khan 
should himself come to him for personal explanations. 

Madali Klian, however, thought it better to save himself by 
flight, and quickly collecting his valuables, sent them off in a 
hundred carts to Namangan, whither he himself soon followed, with 
a suite of a thousand men. 

The Amir of Bukhara was immediately received into the city, 
and thinking that he could better lay the inhabitants under sub- 
jection by terror, gave the city up for half a day to pillage by the 
soldiery, and immediately sent to capture Madali Khan and his 
family. The unfortunate Khan, after leaving Khokand, had thought 
it might be best to return there, and to go personally to the Amir and 
make what peace he could with him, and had come to Khokand 
for that purpose when he was discovered by the persons who had 
promised to capture him, and was brought to the Amir, who resolved 
to execute him. 

This intention was opposed in council by the magnates of 
Khokand, as well as by Irdane, the Kush Begi of Bukhara, who 
said how much better it would be for the Amir to rule the 
country by love than by fear. This council displeased the Amir, 
and the Kazi Kalian of Bukhara, who was present, knowing his 
master's wishes, immediately accused Madali Khan of the crime of 
having married his step-mother, and insisted on his death. Madali 
Khan, his mother, and his eldest son Madamin Bek, were im- 
mediately brought before the council, and executed in their presence. 

A second son, Mozaffar, was also killed by the Amir's orders, 
and a third son by another wife, Ashula, was killed near Tchusta 


in 18G6-7, by the orders of Khudayar Khan. Ifc was really true 
that Madali Khan had married his step-mother, the widow of his 
father Omar Khan. She was apparently an attractive person, for 
after Madali Khan's death, the Amir JSTasrullah married her himself, 
although he pnt her to death in the same year after his second ex- 
pedition against Khokand. The other wives of Madali Khan were 
sent in forty carts to Bukhara. Two hundred and fifty of the 
chief Khokandians were also taken to Bukhara as hostages. 

The Amir appointed as Governor of the Khanate Ibrahim Datkha, 
formerly Governor of Samarkand, and left with him 600 soldiers, 
and after arranging affairs there to suit him, made a triumphant 
entry into Bukhara, the whole campaign having lasted only fifty- 
four days. 

Hardly three months had elapsed, however, since this easily 
gained triumph, when the whole of Khokand was in an insurrection, 
and the Bukharan power there was destroyed. It seems that 
Ibrahim Datkha greatly oppressed the people, and made them pay 
not only all the taxes which existed in Bukhara, but others in- 
troduced at his own pleasure. The people, indignant at these 
exactions, resolved to rid themselves of the Bukharan yoke, and 
sent to the Kiptchaks where Shir Ali, the son of Hadji Bii was 
living, and asked them to come and deliver them. Shir Ali was 
himself extremely feeble, and unfit for governing, bat the leading 
Kiptchaks thought it would be a good opportunity for their own 
personal aggrandisement, and for restoring the supremacy of the 
Kiptchaks and Uzbek tribes in the Khanate. In former times they 
had had possession of all the important offices, and had ruled the 
country, but had afterwards been turned out by the town people, 
or Sarts, who surrounded Madali Khan, and were his favourites. 

Shir Ali had taken refuge among the Kiptchaks on account of 
the designs of Madali Khan against his life, and had there married 
daughters of two of the prominent chiefs. 

The Kiptchaks then were moving in a mass on the capital, 
when the inhabitants threw themselves on the Bukharans and 
killed nearly all of them. Ibrahim Datkha and his brother with 
difficulty saved themselves by flight. Shir Ali immediately entered 
the city, occupied the citadel, and was at once proclaimed Khan. 

The news of this successful rebellion threw the Amir into a 
great rage, and he immediately ordered the punishment of Ibrahim 
Datkha and his brother, confiscated their property, and finally 
decided to send another army to Khokand, thinking that the Kipt- 
chaks, hearing of its approach, would at once run away, and in the 
autumn set out with an army of 20,000 men, taking with him the 
250 Khokandian officials, whom he had pre\ iously taken to Bukhara 

:J46 appendix i. 

as hostages. He feared to leave them in Bukhara, lost they niighi 
enter into some plot with Allah Kul, the Khan of Khiva, who had 
long been in disagreeable relations with him, and was particularly 
jealous of his extension of dominions. 

The Amir laid siege to Khokand, but the garrison refused to 

One of the hostages, a Kiptchak, who had formerly been a Yuz 
Bashi, or centurion, in Khokand — a person of remarkable intelli- 
gence and capacity — called Mussulman Kul, and popularly known 
as Tchulak (cripple) on account of his lameness, resolved to save 
his country. He adroitly nattered the Amir, and offered to obtain 
for him the possession of the city, and was therefore allowed to 
enter Khokand. Once arrived there, however, he energetically 
preached ' no surrender,' and urged the inhabitants to fight till the 
last drop of blood. As he had previously been much respected, his 
words inspired them with confidence, and consequently sorties 
were made, in some of which the Bukharan army met with heavy 
losses. At the same time he had recourse to cunning. He addressed 
a letter to some of the Bukharan notabilities, urging them to fulfil 
their promise of rising against the Amir during the present 
campaign, and contrived that these letters should fall into the 
hands of the Amir. At the same time, by a most lucky coincidence 
intelligence arrived from Bukhara that the Khan of Khiva, by 
intrigues with Khokand, had invaded the country, and had carried 
off a large amount of spoil. 

Nasrullah, terrified by this news, at once raised the siege, freed 
the 250 hostages, and returned to Bukhara. The whole siege 
lasted forty days. 

After the departure of the Amir, Shir Ali was maintained in 
peaceful possession of the throne. He was simple and good-natured, 
and was a kind and mild ruler, so weak as to get the nickname of 
pustiak (mat or rag), and distinguished the beginning of his reign 
by causing the body of Madali Khan to be dug up and re-buried 
with great funeral ceremonies conducted by all the clergy. 1 

The reign of Shir Ali was chiefly marked by a struggle for 
supremacy between the nomads and the settled inhabitants. The 

1 A distich composed by Shir Ali, quoted by Petrofsky, shows his character. It 
is addressed to himself : 

Adat buldyr Khanlar tchiksa yagmur yagar ; 

San na Khan san ? tulga Xchiksang khalk kusindan kanlar yagar. 
What sort of a Khan art thou ? when thou goest out, blood flows from the 
eyes of the people.' 

The tradition is that when Khans go out of doors, rain falls (i.e. blessing* 


Uzbek party had put Shir AH on the throne, and it was therefore 
only natural that, knowing the Khan's weakness and inability to 
rule, their leader should insist upon governing the country. Their 
chief, the Kiptchak Yusuf, was made Ming Bashi, and began to 
remove all the Sarts from influential positions, and to fill up their 
places with his own favourites and adherents. But the head of 
the Sart party, Shadi, was more loved by the people ; and, there- 
fore, with the consent of Shir AH, he poisoned Yusuf, and ordered 
many of his adherents to be executed. Desiring to get rid of 
Mussulman Kul, the hero of the revolution, who was his greatest 
enemy, he ordered him to come to Khokand. Mussulman Kul 
replied politely that he was on his way, and that he was rejoiced 
to hear of the death of Yusuf, who had been ill-disposed to him, 
but in reality he collected an army, and took into his service all 
the fugitive adherents of Yusuf. When Shadi heard of this, ho 
sent hired assassins to Andijan, but they were caught and hung 
by order of Mussulman Kul. An open war now began between 
the two parties, and their armies met at Tuz, where the Uzbeks 
defeated the Sarts ; Shadi was killed, and the Khan Khudayar, who 
had accompanied him, was taken prisoner. Owing to difficulties 
in finding a successor, he was retained on the throne, and Mussulman 
Kul occupied the place of Shadi Ming-bashi. But Mussulman Kul 
found it impossible thoroughly to propitiate the Sarts, adherents 
of Shadi, for he could not give them all the offices they desired ; 
and the more he endeavoured to make friends with them, the more 
he displeased the Kiptchaks, who were jealous of his prominence 
in the government, and there was consequently a strong oppo- 
sition to him, and every means were used to overthrow him. Finally 
the dissatisfied party, in 1845, sent deputies to Shahrisabs, and 
invited Murad Bek, son of Alim Khan, who was living there, to 
come to Khokand and take possession of the throne. 

On the accession of Madali Khan, Murad Bek had gone to 
Khiva, where he had married his daughter to the Khan Allah Kul, 
but after her death had quarrelled with his son-in-law, and had 
sought refuge in Bukhara. Murad Bek easily persuaded the Amir 
Nasrullah to assist him, and with a small body of soldiery made his 
way to Khokand, and, profiting by the absence of Mussulman Kul, 
who had gone to the mountains in the east to collect tribute, seized 
the capital by a coup-de-main, put to death Shir AH, and pro- 
claimed himself Khan, but at the same time vassal and lieutenant 
of the Amir of Bukhara. Had it not been for this, he might 
perhaps have been successful, but the people so hated the Bukharans, 
that word was at once sent to Mussulman Kul, who advanced with 
his forces, stopping at Marghilan on the way, and taking with hiiD 


Khudayar, one of the younger sons of Shir Ali, and Bek of that 
place, who was at the same time his son-in-law. 

As soon as Murad heard of the approach of Mussulman Kul, his 
courage deserted him, and he fled from the city and returned to 
Shahrisabs. According to other accounts he was killed. The 
Bukharan troops for the most part escaped. 1 

Shir Ali had left five sons : by his first wife Jarkin, the daughter 
of the Kiptchak Tokhta JNazar, Sarymsak, then twenty-two, Bek 
of Tashkent, Khudayar, sixteen, Bek of Marghilan, and Sultan 
Murad; and by his second wife Suna Aim (also a Kiptchak), 
Malla, seventeen years old, Bek of Andijan, and Sufi. 

Mussulman Kul was in unpleasant relations with Sarymsak, the 
eldest son, and preferred one of the younger boys as Khan, because 
in that way he could really govern the country himself. He there- 
fore sent a letter with the seal of Khudayar to Sarymsak, who was 
then at Tashkent, asking him to come to Khokand and become 
Khan. Sarymsak believed this and started, but was murdered on 
the way. It is generally believed that this execution took place 
without the knowledge of his brother. On the next day his death 
was announced, and Khudayar was proclaimed Khan. 

After the accession of Khudayar, there ensued a painful epoch 
for Khokand. The Khan himself was too young to engage in 
business, and was kept by Mussulman Kul in most strict seclusion. 
He was, for instance, rarely allowed any money, for fear he should 
buy himself friends, and only obtained a little through the good 
offices of the Aftobatcha Abdurrahman, the son of Mussulman Kul, 
then his best friend. 

Mussulman Kul himself was a kind and naturally a just man ; 
but he now removed from the government all of the Sarts who had 
been hostile to him, and the persons who surrounded him oppressed 
the people with their extortions. Mussulman Kul himself was not 
a man who could be contradicted, and insisted on the fulfilment of 

1 Atalyk, the second son of Alim Khan, had been sent to Karategin with his 
brother Murad on the usurpation of Omar. He was subsequently invited to 
Bukhara, where he married, going afterwards to Balkh. In 1844 he headed a 
trifling insurrection in Khokand, but was defeated by Shir Ali at Kara Yasi and 
was killed. Six years after his death his widow went to live at Samarkand, 
accompanied by her son Pulad, then a boy of seven, and by a daughter, who 
afterwards married Mohammed Rahim Subankul, the Mutevali of the Medress6 
Hodja Akhrar. In 1872 Pulad went to Khokand where he was arrested by 
Khudayar, and was only set at liberty on the intercession of his sister. In the 
insurrection of 1875 Pulad took no part, and the person bearing that name, who 
was subsequently executed by the Russians at Marghilan, was an impostor, a 
Kirghiz from near Andijan, named Mullah Islak, who was a tobacco-seller at 
Piskent, and was put forward by the leaders of the Kptchak party. 


his will, whether it was according to law or not. He had raised up 
for himself enemies even among his own Kiptchaks, and the rulers 
of Ura-tepe, Hodjent, and Marghilan, and Nur Mohammed, the Bek 
of Tashkent, became especially hostile to him. In 1850, too, the 
Khan Khudayar reached his majority, and was less disposed to 
submit himself to the arbitrary will of his regent. 

Open rebellion did not, however, begin until 1851, when Nur 
Mohammed led armed forces towards the capital, with the view of 
meeting with Utenbai, the Governor of Marghilan, and overthrowing 
Mussulman Kul. The latter, however, got wind of this, and cut 
off their intercourse, and forced Nur Mohammed to retreat to 
Tashkent, while Utenbai came to Mussulman Kul and declared 
that he had come to his assistance, and not to that of Nur 
Mohammed. He was, however, removed from office. 

In consequence of various disputes arising out of the collection 
of the tribute due from Tashkent, in the next year another rebellion 
broke out, and in March 1852, Mussulman Kul marched with an 
army of 40,000 men, and laid siege to Tashkent, taking the Khan 
with him, as he dared not leave him in Khokand. The siege, owing 
in part to the treachery of the Bek of Marghilan, and to the violent 
rains, was unsuccessful, and after a fortnight, the Khokandian 
army was obliged to retire. 1 

This disaster was followed with very important consequences for 
Mussulman Kul. The intrigues against him grew stronger, and were 
secretly supported by the Khan. He tried to disarm and propitiate 
his enemies with favours and promises ; but at last, in July, he was 
obliged to besiege Tashkent again with 30,000 men. As, however, 
preparations for defence had been made, he found it impossible to 
take the place by storm, and contented himself with besieging the 
small fort of Niazbek, and with cutting off the water supply of the 
city ; and then, turning to the north, took Tchimkent. In his 
absence, however, he found that a sortie had been made from 
Tashkent, the force blockading Niazbek defeated, and the water 
supply restored to the city. Hurriedly returning to Tchimkent 
with his army, he met the Tashkendians on the Tchirtchik. When 
just on the eve of battle, it was found that the Khan Khudayar and 
numerous of his followers had abandoned him, and gone over to the 
enemy. The Khokandian army, losing heart, ran away, and Mussul- 
man Kul himself was obliged to take refuge among the Kiptchaks. 2 

1 The Russian merchant Kliutcharef, then liA'ing in Tashkent, kept a very 
interesting diary of all these proceedings from February ^ to ^ June 1852, which 
is published as an appendix to Mr. Velyaminof-Zernofs article. 

2 Nurekin relates this differently. .According to him Mussulman Kul won in th« 
battle and captured the Khan, and the fall of Mussulman Kul was owing tc 
the explosi >n of a subsequent intrigue. 


Khudayar Khan had, however, not freed himself from thf 
despotism of Mussulman Kul to fall into the hands of new regents, 
and a party among the Sarts of Khokand being formed, adverse to 
the Kiptchaks, he readily joined with them. Nur Mohammed was 
executed, and his friends were overthrown. Malla Bek, the brother 
of the Khan, was sent to govern Tashkent. General orders were 
now given for the massacre of all the Kiptchaks in the Khanate 
from Ak Masjid (Fort Perovsky) to the mountains separating 
Khokand from Kashgar, and they were killed everywhere, in the 
bazaars, in the streets, and on the steppe, wherever they were found. 
Khokand was thus turned into a vast place of execution, and in all the 
three months during which this massacre lasted, 20,000 men, it is 
supposed, were killed. Khudayar was himself by his mother's side 
a Kiptchak, and this act of carnage was never forgiven nor forgotten. 

In the beginning of 1853, while these murders were still con- 
tinuing, Mussulman Kul was caught, and publicly punished. He 
was made to sit loaded with fetters, with a tall cap on his head, 
on a wooden platform, while 600 Kiptchaks were killed before his 
eyes, and at last he himself was hung. To please the people, who 
were delighted with the fall of their former oppressors, new 
and most unheard-of kinds of torture, were applied. It is said 
that when Mussulman Kul witnessed the horrible spectacle of the 
punishment of his partisans, he at first sat pale and silent, with 
difficulty sustaining his emotion ; but that when he saw the heads 
fall of persons entirely innocent, he could no longer contain himself, 
and cried out, ' For God's sake kill me first.' 

After the reign of the Kiptchaks came that of the Sarts. Malla 
Bek soon quarrelled with his brother and declared war against 
him, and being defeated fled to Bukhara. Subsequently, at the 
request of his mother, he was pardoned and recalled to Khokand, 
but received no new position. 

Mirza Akhmet, one of the Sart leaders, and a great opponent 
of Mussulman Kul, was appointed Bek of Tashkent in his place. 1 

Mirza Akhmet by his severity excited great discontent among 
the Kirghiz who lived in the district surrounding Tchimkent and 
Aulie-ata ; and finding it impossible to put them down, was obliged 
to make a compromise with them and satisfy their demands. 

This was in 1857. At the same time the Kara Kirghiz and 
what was left of the Kiptchaks entered into negotiations with 
Malla Bek and gained to their side many influential Uzbeks, espe- 
cially Alim Kul, a person who afterwards rose to great promi- 

1 Mirza Akhmet is now one of the chief advisers of Yakub Khan, the Amir of 


nence. They ai oiice proclaimed Malla Bek their Khan and 
marched against Khokand. 

The Khan with his army went out to meet them, but suffered 
a decisive defeat at Samantchi. His most trusted adherents 
immediately turned agaiust him, and he was obliged to give up his 
throne and fly to Bukhara, while Malla Khan was received as the 
lawful ruler. 

Another reason of dislike to Khudayar Khan had been the 
ad ranee of the Russians, who in 1853, after the fall of Mussulman 
Kul, had captured Ak Masjid, and founded Fort Perovsky, and had 
made considerable progress in the north, having captured Pishpek, 
Tokmak, and other forts near Vierny. 

Khudayar Khan was very well received at the Court of Buk- 
hara, for Kasrullah thought that this might prove another oppor- 
tunity for him to obtain possession of Khokand, a country the loss 
of which he had never ceased to regret, and Khudayar was given a 
sort of honorary position at Court, and subsequently went to live 
at Samarkand. When he had lived there for some time, for some 
reason or other the Amir suddenly changed his disposition to him, 
and sent him to live at Jizakh, at the same time giving strict 
orders to the Bek of that place to assist him in no possible way, 
and to prevent all people from holding any communication with 
him. Khudayar Khan saw himself, therefore, on the point of 
starvation. He lived with two personal adherents in a little hut 
made of mud outside of the walls. Afraid to appear in public him- 
self, his attendants gathered reeds and roots which could be used 
as fuel, and disguising themselves sold them in the town, and with 
the money thus obtained purchased provisions. Then the mother 
of Khudayar Khan managed to send him from time to time small 
sums, and with this money, under an assumed name, he procured 
two or three camels, which he hired out to carry freight, and when 
events recalled him to Khokand he had laid the foundation of a 
fortune, and was standing the chance of becoming a rich merchant. 

Malla Khan reigned for two years, during which time he suc- 
ceeded in making himself much loved by the people. Alim Kul 
became his chief adviser, but, contrary to the hopes of the other 
Biis who had taken part in the insurrection, he gave them no share 
in the Government, and allowed no one to approach the Khan. 
Their discontent increased to such a degree that some of their 
leaders, including Shadiman Hodja, resolved to murder the Khan, 
and taking advantage of the absence of Alim Kul, who had been 
appointed Bek in Andijan, and having gained over the attendant 
who always watched over his master, they murdered him during 
his sleep and proclaimed as Khan Shah Murad, a boy of about 


fifteen years old, the son of Sarymsak, and therefore nephew of 
Khudayar Khan. 1 

Malla Khan had left a son, a boy of about thirteen years, Seid 
Sultan, whom it was the intention of the conspirators also to kil 1 , 
but Alim Kul, who hod quick intelligence of what was taking 
place, sent to Khokand, and managed secretly to get him out of the 
palace and bring him to Andijan. The conspirators were very 
much frightened, thinking Alim Kul had intended immediately to 
proclaim Seid Sultan the Khan, but were soon quieted by receiving 
a message from him that he merely wished to save him irom death, 
and that he was devoted heart and soul to the new government. 
He probably temporised in this way on account of the danger of 
being disunited in view of the position taken by Tashkent, for 
this city, with its usual rebellious spirit, under the influence of 
Shadiman Hodja, one of the murderers of Malla Khan, and of 
Khanayat Shah, Bek of Turkistan, had just recalled Khudayar Khan 
from Jizakh, and he had occupied it with his adherents. The army 
of Khokand, under the command of Shah Murad, with most of the 
conspirators, immediately moved on Tashkent aud besieged Khuda- 
yar Khan ; but as Tashkent held out strongly, after thirty-one days' 
siege, they retired. On the homeward march, while the army was 
resting, Alim Kul, who had just arrived from Andijan, put to death 
in the Khan's presence four of the leading murderers of Malla 
Khan, who had just plotted to go over to Khudayar, and on the 
same day another, Alim Bii, was also killed by his orders. Contrary 
to expectation Shah Murad, who was with the array, remained 
Khan, the only change being that Alim Kul was made regent, as 
he had been in the time of Malla Khan. 

Khudayar Khan and his army at once followed and attacked 
Hodjent. Alim Kul at first began to defend Khokand, but find- 
ing general treachery he retired to Marghilan, and then to the 

The young Khan, Shah Murad, somehow disappeared, and it 
was ascertained afterwards that Khudayar had succeeded in cap- 
turing and murdering him. He was also desirous of getting hold 
of Seid Sultan, but was unsuccessful. 

Khokand received its old tyrant, Khudayar Khan, with great 
delight, and there were now two strong parties in the country — 
that of Khudayar, who was once again the lawful ruler, and that of 
Alim Kul, the Regent ; and a violent contest lasted between them for 
three years, all the Uzbeks, with the exception of the Kara Kalpaks, 
supporting Alim Kul, and the Sarts and townspeople being on the 
side of Khudayar. Not only the two armies fought, but the indi- 
1 1 have given the detailed .account of this murder on p. 92. 


victuals of the two classes of populations murdered each other when 
ever they had an opportunity. 

The Uzbek party was somewhat divided in consequence of three 
new pretenders to the throne, descendants of the former Khans— 
Shahrukh, who had been proclaimed by Mirza Akhraet, S&dyk 
Bek, and Hadji Bek — and it was said that Alim Kul, to rid himself 
of opposition, enticed these young men to himself ard had them all 
murdered in Ush, where they are buried on the side of the hill 
called ' Solomon's Throne.' 

After this Alim Kul proclaimed Seid Sultan Khan, and began 
decisive operations against Khudayar, and soon took Marghilan and 
Andijan, and twice defeated the Khan's army. Khudayar Khan 
then sent Sultan Murad Bek to the Amir of Bukhara, asking for 
assistance, and the Amir — now Mozaffar-Eddin, the son of Nas- 
rullah — came in person with a large army. Alim Kul retreated 
and shut himself up in the defiles of Kara-Kuldja, where he was for 
a long time besieged. 

At last the Amir became disgusted at his want of success, got 
angry with Khudayar, sent to Alim Kul as presents a golden staff, 
a cap, a belt, and a fine Koran, and retired to Bukhara. Upon 
this Alim Kul advanced from the mountains, took Khokand with- 
out difficulty, and Khudayar for a second time sought refuge in 

Alim Kul was now supreme ruler of Kliokand, for Seid Sultai 
bore but the nominal title of Khan. Fully understanding the diffi- 
culties which internal disputes were causing the country, while 
lenient to ordinary offenders, he punished with unexampled severity 
all those accused of political offences, and is said to have executed 
over 4,000 men. 

At first by these means he restored quiet to the Khanate, but 
soon reaction took place, and he was greeted with general dis. 
content. Prayers from every city went out to Khudayar to returi 
and assume the throne. Khudayar in the meantime was living ir 
Jizakh, where he had renewed his former mercantile operations, 
but this time on a larger scale. On making representations to the 
Amir he succeeded in persuading him again to attempt an expedi- 
tion, and preparations were being made when news arrived of the 
death of Alim Kul in Tashkent. He had been wounded in the first 
attack the Russians had made on the city in 1865, under General 
Tchernaief. The partizans of Alim Kul, fearing the vengeance of 
Khudayar Khan, immediately fled, most of them going to Kashg-ar, 
where Yakub Bek was now making for himself a throne under the, 
pretext of being the general of Buzruk Khan. 

VOL. I. A A 


About the same time that the Russians took Tashkent, the Buk. 
haran Amir took Hodjent, and one of the first propositions of tho 
Russians in their efforts to make a peace was that the Amir of 
Bukhara should place on the throne of Khokand the rightful Khan 
Khudayar, even offering 1 him the support of the Russian troops for 
that purpose. This, however, he did not accept, feeling confident 
of his own strength, and advanced to Khokand and reinstated 
Khudayar. He insisted on retaining Hodjent as the price for his 
services, and that town therefore remained a Bukharan possession 
until it was taken by the Russians in 1866. Seid Sultan Khan 
escaped for the time, but was brought to Khokand and executed 
in Isfara in 1871. 

The Khanate of Khokand, by both Russian and Bukharan con- 
quests, had now been reduced to but a small portion of its former 
dimensions, but the Khan succeeded in escaping complete conquest 
by following the shrewd advice of Ata Bek in sending to congratu- 
late the Russians upon the capture of Hodjent. While in his 
heart hating the Russians, Khudayar became apparently submissive, 
and for the remaining ten years of his reign was unmolested by them. 
Fear of the Russians in a great measure restrained his subjects 
from rebellion, although they were no more contented with his rule 
than they had previously been ; in fact, his reign had become much 
more severe. He did not give himself up so much to open licen- 
tiousness as he had previously done, but he began to make money 
as fast as possible out of his dominions, both by seizing the bazaars 
and taking the profits arising from them, and by imposing taxes 
of every kind upon the country. The Kirghiz and Kiptchaks, 
although they have not been the greatest sufferers by these taxes, 
have been the most indignant at them, and in all of their projects 
they have had the full support of the settled population — a thing 
which has never before occurred. It was with difficulty that anything 
could be attempted, as there was great fear that the Russians 
would march in and reduce the population to submission to the Khan, 
it being thought that the new conquerors looked upon him as 
their instrument. 

In 1871 an open revolt broke out, but was speedily terminated. 

During 1873 a much more serious movement began. The 
Khan desired to impose additional taxes upon the Kara- Kirghiz 
in the mountains to the south of Ush and Andijan, and asked as 
much as three sheep instead of one from a family. There were 
also some new taxes upon the cultivated land in the mountains. 
These taxes the Kirghiz refused to pay, and stripped and beat the 
officers who were sent to collect them ; and when troops were sent, 


conflicts ensued, and the Kirghiz in a mass retired to t'ne inac- 
cessible defiles of the mountains. 

At this time the Aftobatcha Abdurrahman Hadji, the son of 
Mussulman Kul, and brother-in-law to the Khan, who had just 
returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca, 1 — to the great surprise of all, 
who had supposed he had been secretly murdered by order of the 
Khan, — and who enjoyed a great influence among the Kiptchaks, 
was put in command of the troops, and was sent to bring the 
Kirghiz to obedience. 

The Aftobatcha persuaded the Kirghiz to send to the Khan 
a deputation of forty men to represent their grievances, and to try 
to come to some understanding. At the same time he urged the 
Khan to retain them as hostages, but on no account to harm them, 
and to treat them well, as order could only be restored by pacific 
means. The Khan stupidly had all of them executed, and the 
Aftobatcha was obliged at once to return to Khokand, as the 
Kirghiz were thoroughly aroused at this act of perfidy, and the 
Kiptchaks were threatening to join them. All this occurred while 
I was in Khokand. 

Open hostilities commenced at once, and the Kirghiz im- 
mediately took Uzgent and Suk, a small fortified place in the 
mountains, where was part of the private treasury of the Khan. 
In the low country the rebels met with little success, as they were 
too badly armed and disciplined to cope with even the poor soldiers 
of the Khan. A large number of them were taken prisoners, and 
500 of them were executed in the bazaar at Khokand ; and the 
pretender to the throne, who called himself Mozaffar Khan, son of 
Madali Khan, was impaled alive. At the same time the Khan sent 
two or three special envoys one after the other to Tashkent asking 
for assistance, and making complaints to the Russians that the 
Kirghiz subject to the Emperor had invaded Khokand, and were 
devastating it. On investigation the facts proved to be that 
several thousand Kirghiz from Khokand, on the breaking out of 
the disturbance, had emigrated from Khokand into the Russian 
territory ; but when the rebels began to get the upper hand, 
with the exception of a few Kiptchaks, they all returned. The 
Russians refused to interfere on the side of the Khan, and the 
commander of the forces even telegraphed to St. Petersburg for 
permission to occupy Khokand if the insurrection continued, as 

1 Although the pilgrimage was the avowed object of the Aftobatcha's journey, 
he had been in reality sent by the Khan to the Sultan at Constantinople to ask 
his aid against he Russians. Aftobatcha is an honorary title meaniDg ewer- 


such a state of affairs was very injurious to Russian interests, 
This permission was, however, refused. 

The position of the Khan was very unpleasant ; he felt he could 
not even rely on those persons who ought to be the most devoted to 
him. Mirza Hakim, the Khokandian envoy at Tashkent, told me 
that he himself was strongly in favour of the insurgents, and that 
he, as well as many others, would abandon the Khan as soon as they 
saw that the rebellion had any prospect of success. He said that 
the Khan had promised him in case his mission were successful 
to make him Bek, but if it were unsuccessful, he was to have his 
head cut off. It was known that conspiracies were on foot in 
Andijan and Khokand, and the Khan had great fear of his son the 
Khan-Zada Nasr'eddin, Bek of Andijan, and desired to bring him 
to Khokand. The Khan-Zada, however, feared for his life, as 
some time before the Khan had openly told him that as long as he 
lived he could feel no safety. He therefore refused to go. At the 
same time three high military commanders in Andijan laid a plot 
to seize upon the person of Khan-Zada, carry him to the mountains, 
and proclaim him Khan, hoping that this would add confidence to 
the insurgent's cause. The Khan-Zada refused to be a party to 
this plot, and personally wounded two of the conspirators, and had 
them all arrested and sent to Khokand, where they were executed 
It was not, however, until the good offices of his aunt, — a sister oi 
Malla Khan, and much respected at Khokand, — had been brought 
into play, that he consented to go to his father at Khokand, 
resigning at the same time the Bekship, and taking his family and 
treasure with him, saying that he no longer wished to hold any 
public position. 

Ush and Andijan were immediately after taken by the rebels, 
and various smaller places, such as Suzak, Utch-Kurgan, and 
Balyktchi. This last city greatly suffered from the insurgents. 
Its Bek was put to death by being pinned to the ground by a l 
stake driven through his mouth. 

The Khan now took command of the troops in person, together 
with Ata-Bek and the Aftobatcha, although the two former soon 
retired, leaving the Aftobatcha in sole command. He had 
several small engagements with the rebels ; but a large number of 
the Khan's soldiers, — it is said several thousand, — passed over to 
the enemy, and the Aftobatcha shut himself up in the small fort 
of Tiura- Kurgan, near Namangan, and refused to take any further 

Messages from Khokand and other cities were sent to the 
Kirghiz, asking thorn to advance more quickly, as they would at 
once rise against the Khan : a v -d the aid of the Kiptchaks, who 


had hitherto taken no active part in the rebellion, was promised, 
and it was hoped that the Aftobatcha even might be on their side. 

It was now, however, autumn ; and with the approach of cold 
weather the insurrection died out, and the Khan retook his cities 
with but little opposition, and the country during the winter 
returned to its usual quiet state. In 1874 the insurrection began 
again with a plot to put on the throne Mohammed Amin, or Madamin 
Bek, the second son of Khudayar, who, it is said, himself let out 
the conspiracy by his great talkativeness. The plan had been 
prepared by his uncle Batyr Khan Tiura, and it was proposed to 
seize the Khan about April 1, in one of his towns outside of the 
capital. Batyr Khan and sixteen of the conspirators were called 
to the palace, and never returned ; it is supposed that they were 
drowned in a pond within its precincts. Madamin himself was 
placed under strict surveillance. The Mekhter, Mullah Mir Kamil, 
was also one of the victims, and was poisoned by order of the 
Khan, for not having given him previous information. Before 
that, the Mekhter had been suspected of embezzling the custom- 
house funds, and had been subjected to a severe ordeal. He was 
bound on a thin lattice work, which was thrown over a deep 
ravine, and a horse was made to gallop several times over this 
frail bridge, threatening at every moment to break through. As the 
Mekhter came out alive, he was considered innocent — at least, of 
that offence. The Kirghiz and Kiptchaks now united, and sought 
for another claimant to the throne, entering into negotiations with 
Abdul Kerim Bek, a boy of sixteen, and a grandson of Fazyl Bek, 
the Khan's uncle, who was living at Hodjent. As an infant of a 
year old, his mother had taken him from Khokand to Hodjent, 
where she soon after died, and, it is said, that he did not even know 
of his extraction. At a request of Khudayar, the Russians com- 
pelled Abdul Kerim to remove to Tashkent, where he would be 
under the strictest surveillance, and sent his chief adviser, Abdul 
Kauni, to Tchimkent. 

The failure of these two plots did not restore to the Khan that 
tranquillity and quiet which he had previously enjoyed. He became 
sombre and distrustful. His body-guard, composed of 400 picked 
men, educated to that trust from their infancy, ceased to inspire 
him with the same confidence as before. He felt himself menaced 
everywhere and at all times, and he even saw dangers where there 
were none. For a long time he did not even leave his palace. 
The entry of his room was usually guarded day and night by a 
black slave, Nasim Toga, who was blindly attached to him, and 
who was ordered to let no one — not even his wives or children — 
enter without consulting him. His distrust and fear were no 


great, that he was only lulled asleep by the noise of the voices of 
three of his most faithful servants, who were ordered to remain in 
the adjoining room, and to make themselves constantly heard, as a 
palpable proof that watch was being kept.' ! His eldest sou 
Nasreddin was placed under strict surveillance, and the system of 
espionage throughout the Khanate was carried to its utmost limits. 
His best spy was a certain Mir Alim, a rich merchant of Khokand, 
who had .agents in the Russian possessions, as well as everywhere 
within the dominions of the Khan, and who naturally played upon 
the affairs of the Khan in order to gain for himself a good fortune. 

One of the most popular chiefs of the insurrection of 1873, was 
a certain Mamyn Batcha, from Andijan, who had taken refuge first 
on Russian territory, and then in Kashgar, where he had tried to 
find support. Not succeeding in this, he returned with some 
adherents to Khokand, but was defeated, and took refuge i» 
Russia, where he was arrested and sent to Siberia. A Kiptchak, 
too, Mussulman Kul, a relative of the former Regent, Alim Kul, 
3n June, 1874, collected a band of partisans in the mountains north 
of Namangan, and finally succeeded in taking the town of Kasan, 
from which the Bek had fled. The Khan sent against them 
7,000 men, under the command of the Aftobatcha, and of Issa- 
aulie, the Bek of Shahrikhana, and defeated the insurgents at Tiura 
Kurgan. Mussulman Kul died in the fight, and Said Pulad Khan, 
a new pretender, together with a certain Mumyn, a Kirghiz chief, 
fled to Russian territory, where they were caught. Another slight 
insurrection of the Kirghiz to the north of Namangan, was also 
easily put down. 

In 1875, General Kaufmann, in order to make a bargain with 
the Khan, resolved to give up Abdul Kerim, and sent him to 
Khokand. While the Russian embassy was still there, the re- 
bellion broke out again; and the Aftobatcha, who had been 
waiting his own time to avenge the murder of his father, Mussulman 
Kul, appeared as its leader. Everything must have been well 
prepared, for the army deserted in a mass, and Khudayar's brother 
and sons immediately went over to the rebels. Khudayar was 
forced to fly for the third time, and escaped with all his treasure 
to Tashkent, where he was well received by the Russians. He 
was subsequently sent to live at Orenburg. His eldest son, 
Nasreddin, was proclaimed Khan, but did not long keep the title, 
for he allowed himself to be drawn into a war against the Russians, 
the details of which I have given elsewhere— and eventually lost 
his throne, after which Khokand was annexed to Russia under the 
historic name of Ferghana. 

* -Journal de St. Petersburg,' Mo. 24, January 25 (February j\ 1*76. 



























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300 AlTLiNDIX II. 



His ory of Bukhara from the Earliest Period down to the Present, composed foi 
the firs: time after Oriental known and unknown historical manuscripts, by Ar- 
minius Vambery, London, 1873, xxxv. 419 pp. 8vo. 

In the very title of this work the author represents that it is the 
first which has appeared in Enrope on this subject, and that it has 
been based in a great measure on Oriental historical manuscripts 
unknown in Europe. In the preface he expatiates still more on his 
services. ' It seems, however, to be the lot ordained for me to 
traverse regions where I have had scarcely any, or absolutely no, 
predecessors ; 2 and having now to explore with the pen an entirely 
new field,' he says (p. viii.), and further on (p. xvi.) : ' The second 

1 As this review was published in a journal, but little circulated in Eussia, 
and hardly known abroad — the ' Journal of the Ministry of Public Instruction ' for 
November 1873 — I have thought that a translation of it would be interesting and 
valuable to students of the East. I have in some cases slightly condensed it 
without changing the ideas of the author. 

* As is evident from this and other passages, Mr. Vambery seems to think 
that he was almost the first traveller in Central Asia in recent times. 

Without speaking of the numerous? Russian merchants and agents who went to 
Khiva and Bukhara during the seventeenth century, I subjoin an imperfect list of 
European travellers in Central Asia from the beginning of the eighteenth century up 
to the date of Mr. Vambery's journey, the most of whom have left published accounts 
of their travels. 

1690. Dubrovin, Khiva. 

1725. Florio Beneveni, Khiva and Bukhara. 

1727-30. Basilio Batazzi, Turkistan and Persia. 

1732. Colonel Garber. 

1741. George Thompson and Reynold Hogg, Khiva and Bukhara. 

1740-1. Muravin and Gladishef, Khiva. 

1743. Muller, Tashkent, 

1752. Nikolai Grigoricf, Bukhara. 

1774. Philip YeJ'remof, Bukhara and Samarkand. 


part of my work (i.e. the c History of Bukhara, from its Conquest 
by the Uzbeks ') deals almost entirely with data hitherto little 
known, or entirely unknown even to the world of scholars, for they 
bring before us a series of princes and even whole dynasties regarding 
whom, scarcely anything has, as yet, been written in Asia, and not a 
single word in Europe.'' In conclusion the author says that ' it 
must always be a difficult task to write the first history of any 
country,' and that the present is 'the fruits of many years' toil.' 

Statements of such a kind from a professor of Oriental languages, 
who has personally visited the country, the history of which he 
writes, and who has already succeeded in giving himself a reputa- 
tion as a writer, would naturally cause every Orientalist, interested 
in the history of Central Asia, to read this ' History of Bukhara ' 
with the expectation of finding in it, if not an artistic historical 
work, at least a whole mine of new information, of new facts, and 
of new conclusions penetrated with the spirit of European criticism, 
and enlivened by the author's acquaintance with the nature of the 
country investigated by him, and with the character of its inhabi- 

1793-4. Blankennagel, Khiva. 

1793-5. Metropolitan Chry smith, Balkh, Bukhara and Khiva. 

1794. Timothei Burnashof and A. S. Bernosikof, Bukhara. 

1800. Pospielqf and Burnashof, Tashkent. 

1813-4. Nazarqf, Tashkent and Khokand. 

1819. Muravief, Khiva. 

] 820. Negri and Baron Meyendorf, Bukhara. 

1821-2. Eraser, Khorasan. 

1830. Potanin, Khokand. 

1831-3. Burnes, Bukhara. 

1834. Honiberger, Bukhara. 

1834. Demaison, Bukhara. 

1836. Vitkevitch, Bukhara. 

'840. Abbott, Khiva. 

1840. Thomson, Khiva. 

1840. Shakespeare, Khiva, Merv. 
3 841. Nikiforof, Khiva. 

1841. Connolly, Khiva, Khokand, and Bukhara. 
1 84 1 . StoMart, Bukhara. 

)8U-2. Khanikof, Lchmann, BuUnief, Bukhara and Samarkand. 

1 842-3. Danilefsky and Basiner. 

1842-3. Eversmann, Khiva. 

1843. Dr. Wolf, Bukhara. 

1851. Kliutcharef, Tashkent. 

1858. Admiral Butakoff, the Oxus to Kungrad. 

1858. General Jgnatieff, Lerch, and Kuhlewein, Khiva and Bukhara. 

An interesting map by Mr. Jacob Khanikof, giving the routes of many of the«© 
travellers, is appended to Book X. of the Memoirs (Zapiski) of the Imp. Russ. 
Geogr. Soc, 1855. [E. S.] 


tants. Unfortunately, every page of Mr. Vambery's book only 
disappoints such expectations, and the general result of reading it 
shows that the very small particle of what is really new in his book 
is lost in the mass of what is old and well-known, which in mo^t 
cases, too, he has misunderstood and has erroneously studied. It 
appears that instead of communicating new sources of information 
he has not even made use of very important books accessible to all, 
and has not even known of their existence. It seems, in short, 
that Mr. Vambery, in beginning his work, had not the slightest 
acquaintance with the history of Central Asia ; and in the simpli- 
city of his soul regarded his own gradual emancipation from com- 
plete ignorance on this subject as discoveries which would astonish 
and delight the learned world. 

In consequence of this relation of Mr. Vambery to his subject, 
we have not in his book a conscientious and learned work, the 
result of many years' study, but a very light and superficial com- 
pilation, put together somehow or other in a few months, and with 
very frequent errors and omissions of the most unpardonable cha- 
racter — a compilation which would not be worth speaking about 
had it not been received both in the West and in Russia by unlearned 
persons with full credence in the boast of the author, as a monu- 
mental work, and in this quality been lauded to the skies. 

To show the foundation of our own unfavourable opinion of the 
last work of the noted traveller who has shown himself such a poor 
historian, we shall look more or less minutely at the contents of all 
the nineteen chapters of his book, together with the preface and 
the introduction. 

In his preface, Mr. Vambery, after naming eleven works in 
eastern languages, which were his chief materials for the first part 
of his book — the ' History of Bukhara to the Uzbek invasion' — 
adds that besides these he has made use of all that he ' could find 
relating to the past history of Transoxiana in Oriental works, both 
printed and in manuscript, or in European histories, biographies, 
or books of travel' (p. xii.). * As extensive a knowledge as can 
possibly be obtained of all literature bearing on this subject,* he 
adds directly afterwards, ' is now-a-days the first requisite for an 
author attempting any work.' This is of course true, and yet there 
can be no doubt that the author of the ' History of Bukhara ' did 
not refer in preparing it to such European writers on the history of 
Central Asia as Deguignes, Abel Remusat, Klaproth, and Ritter, 
to say nothing of those less known. This circumstance alone shows 
what kind of a writer Mr. Vambery is, as well as what kind of a 
professor. Further on he enumerates five sources of information 
for the history of Bukhara which he supposes to be new and tm- 


known to anyone but himself ; and what are they ? The most im- 
portant of these, aud that which has furnished him with the whole 
' series of princes and even dynasties,' about which, as he boasts, 
1 not a word has been written in Europe,' is the ' Tarikhi Mukirn- 
Khani,' the text of which, with a partial French translation, was 
published fifty years ago in St. Petersburg by the late Professor 
Senkofsky. 1 The second in importance, the 'History of Bukhara,' 
by Narshaki, has been known to the learned world for more than 
thirty years, thanks to the extracts made from it by our Orientalist 
Khanikof. There are five manuscripts of this work in the libraries 
of St. Petersburg alone. The third source, ' Tarikhi Seid Rakim,' 
was obtained by Mr. Lerch during his visit to Bukhara in ] 850, 
and is well known by extracts made from it in various works by 
Mr. Lerch and by the Academician Veliaminof Zernof. 2 Thus only 
two out of the five sources mentioned appear to be really new and 
unknown to anyone but Mr. Vambery — the poem in the Jagatai 
language, ' Sheibani Nameh,' and a collection of poems, ' Dakhme- 
i-Shahan,' both of which, as is evident from the citations of Mr. 
Vambery himself, contain almost nothing historical. 3 There was 
no reason on account of this to raise a cry throughout all Europe 
and boast of the abundance of the new information communicated 
to the world. 

In calling his book the ' History of Bukhara,' its author was 
obliged to explain what he meant by the name of Bukhara, for the 
boundaries of th